‘I’m going fishing’

View this week’s Scripture readings at: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/
092715.cfm “I’m going fishing,” is my husband’s favorite verse from Scripture. Mike loves the open lake, sun on the face, water glistening, waves lapping against the boat and casting out his line. Even when the catch is scant, it’s always a good break from the stresses of the day. In this Sunday’s Gospel, Peter declares, “I’m going fishing.” No doubt, Peter had an over-the-top stress-filled week, including the denying and abandoning of his Master. Maybe, just maybe, getting back to his livelihood—a little normalcy—could relieve his stress—and shame. Perhaps he could catch a few fish and gain a little control over his life. Yet Peter and the other disciples come up empty.

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Then, with the early morning sun, rises a tender, loving voice: “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” And then the instructions, “Cast your net on the right side of the boat.” How strange for someone from the shoreline to instruct seasoned fishermen on casting nets. Yet, out of sheer exhaustion and failure, Peter obeys. This time, Peter casts out into the swirling, Spirit-filled, life-giving waters teeming with grace and mercy. This time, Peter obeys God rather than self, and the catch overflows with forgiveness, peace, abundance and new life. Though simply on the other side of the boat, everything has changed—the Lord has risen—the Sea of Tiberias has been transformed into the Sea of Mercy. Then with such intimacy and friendship, Jesus invites them to share in a meal around the warmth of a charcoal fire. He wishes to feed the disciples with fish, bread and divine presence. “Come, have breakfast.” Mercy, grace, abundance.

The essence of an abundant Christian life rests upon casting our nets into the living waters of grace and mercy rather than relying on our good works, expertise, knowledge and success. We cast out in weakness, vulnerability, sinfulness and sorrow; through Jesus, we haul in nets swelling with love, forgiveness and joy. We obey God’s instructions and we are filled with the Bread of Life. As parents/grandparents, we name grace each morning we rise and sit by the charcoal fire of our hearts to be fed by Jesus. We name grace as we feed our children—our own little sheep—with God’s word and our tender care. We name grace when we teach our children, through words and action, to obey God rather than self. We name grace each time we bring our children to the Eucharist to be fed by Jesus’ Body and Blood and teach our children to feed others through presence and service.

Not long ago I was experiencing a particularly stress-filled day trying to meet the demands of work, family, taxes, etc.; my heart longed to go fishing and leave everything behind. Instead, I paused, closed my eyes and imagined resting by the charcoal fire, warming my hands, basking in Jesus’ calming presence while enjoying freshly grilled walleye and toasted bread. That moment fed me for the rest of the day. In this Year of Mercy, let’s go fishing and cast our nets—far and wide—into the Sea of Mercy in order to feed the hungry around the charcoal fire of God’s abundant love. Now, that’s good news! Naming Grace in the Domestic Church reflects on the Sunday readings through the lens of a parent/grandparent, aiding parents in their vital task as “first heralds” or “first preachers” of the Good News in the home.

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