Sunday, January 24, 2021

Goin' Fishin'

 Mark 1:14-20

The scripture for today is a story about Jesus calling some disciples from fishing in the sea to fishing for people.

There are lots of ways to go fishing. As a child, I went to a nearby lake with my family carrying a bamboo pole and some worms. The worms drowned more often than I caught anything on my hook. Today, I get my fish in the market. 

Other people make an art of casting a fly into a brook, attempting to lure a trout out of its rocky hiding place. Some people take serious equipment out into the oceans and bays in search of larger fish.


And some folks use nets and traps for commercial fishing enterprises.
The disciples in our Gospel story were commercial fishers. They got into boats and cast nets in hopes of catching enough fish to sell to the folks in the community.

I love to think that Jesus called out to four strangers and they immediately dropped everything and followed him, leaving their fishing business and their families behind. But, I know enough about human nature to think that maybe it happened differently.

Jesus lived in Capernaum; he had a home there, scripture says. So, I believe that Jesus the carpenter took his time getting to know the people in town through his business activities. As he did, he talked about his way of believing in God. He talked about repentance giving them the opportunity to start over with God. And he talked about the reign of God coming near and how people should all rejoice in this good news.

Jesus was already teaching the disciples to fish for people, as they observed him lure them in with an interesting headline. The more he talked, the more he caught the attention of the people. And some of them began to listen more closely and agreed with him. He began to have conversations with them about telling more and more people about the reign of God. He enticed them with the notion of fishing for people. Some of them realized they had allowed themselves to be caught.

Scripture tells the stories of the calling of the twelve disciples, all men. But there must have been women who were caught at the same time. The Twelve had families, wives, sisters and brothers, parents, children. It makes sense that the men went home and talked to their families, and brought them to meet Jesus. And along the way, more women were lured in, caught by the same good news of the coming of the reign of God. Mark reports that Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome were at the cross and the tomb. And Luke includes Joanna and Susanna, as among women who financially supported the ministry.


As the group grew they began to make plans to travel around the region, a day or two here, a day or two there, coming home often enough to go fishing for fish. They discuss the fishing method. Do they want to plan a big event, spreading out a large net, or should they just enter a town and talk with people like themselves, more like casting a fly for one or two at a time? I have the idea that the fisher folk went to speak with other fisher folk; the women went to the well and the communal oven; farmers talked with the miller; dairy people talked with other cattle owners; mothers spoke with the mothers of small children; and so forth.

As the story unfolds, they used many different fishing methods, and the bait is always the same, “Come and hear the good news of the reign of God coming near.”

It’s the same for us, isn’t it? We can cast a wide net as the congregation, hoping to catch a lot of new believers for Jesus.

But the way it works best is to talk with people one on one, sharing our own experiences of Jesus and how he caught us. We lure them in with the promise of God’s love for us, and of Divine mercy and forgiveness. We allow them time to consider all we’ve said, and wait for them to take the bait. Once they are hooked, they discover for themselves the wonder and joy of entering the reign of God. And then, they join us in the adventure of fishing for people.

So, I encourage you to think about people who you know, people who might respond to the lure of your own story of Jesus’ love and forgiveness. And start fishing for people. As you do so, your own faith will grow along with your friend’s faith. Amen