By: Emily Bruch, Director of Youth Ministries
When I was younger, my parent’s, like any parents do, tried to expose me to as many hobbies and experiences as possible. Sometimes these experiences did not go so well. My father really enjoyed fishing and well, he thought I might too. When I was about 10 years old, we went deep sea fishing. The fancy boat, the beautiful sea, and a time to spend with my father…I was so excited for the day ahead. We all loaded up on a big boat and sailed out into the ocean. Unfortunately, at that time, both myself and my father had no idea what the day had in store for us. It was finally time to fish, everyone found their spot on the boat, casted their lines and then the waiting happened. I was ABSOLUTELY miserable. Why were the fish not biting? and why was it taking so long? You would think this would be the worst for my father that day, having his impatient 10-year-old daughter bugging him constantly while trying to relax. Well then, the fish started to bite, and I quickly learned that we were keeping these fish. Looking in the cooler filled to the brim with fish devastated me. The tears started running. Crying, for the rest of the trip, I begged my father to throw each fish he caught back in the water. I am sure this is not the kind of father daughter bonding time he had in mind when planning this adventure. And let’s just say I had not been fishing since.
In the gospel today Peter and the disciples go out fishing. Every time I hear a passage about fishing in the bible, I immediately remember my own fishing experience. Now I do not believe there were any tears over catching fish for the disciples, but I can imagine on this particular trip they felt their patience tested as I had waiting. They fished through the night and yet they caught nothing. I do not know about you, but I would have given up after a few hours.
Their patience must have been impeccable, just waiting. And then That morning a man, whom they do not recognize, appears asking if they have caught anything. And when they say no, this man tells them to cast their net to the right side of the boat. Instead of being annoyed by this reply, the disciples listen to the stranger. They throw their net out to the right and the net fills up so much it is difficult to pull into the boat.
It is at this time one of them realizes it is Jesus who stands before them on the shore. This is when Peter becomes overjoyed, quickly throwing on some clothes and rushing towards Jesus. They all gather around a fire on the beach for breakfast. This time that is shared between the disciples and Jesus and this meal, though consisting of fish and lacking wine, is a Eucharistic event. It is through this breaking of bread that they are reminded of what they were called to do. Jesus questions Peter three times saying, “do you love me?” Following each of Peter’s responses Jesus tells him “feed my sheep”. Their time spent together seems to almost be wrapped up neatly with a nice little bow. Jesus leaves Peter saying, “Follow me.” Those two words are what we are left with to listen to.
It is in this same way, just as Peter, we are reminded through Eucharist our call to serve the Lord. Often in our lives we get stuck in routine. Rushing from one place to another. Getting mad at the car in front of us for not going those 5 miles over the speed limit that we know we can get away with. And Losing patience with a loved one over something so simple and silly because our head is somewhere else. And I know I fall victim to all these mistakes. But the most beautiful thing is each Sunday we all come together, in different places in our lives and all of those things before do not matter. We break bread together during Holy Eucharist just as Jesus, Peter, and the disciples early that morning on the beach. It is during this time we are reminded individually and as a community what we are called to do. We receive the bread and the wine, the body and the blood of Jesus Christ, and we receive forgiveness and the renewal needed to serve others.
Now back to one more fishing story, ironically enough I have been fishing one time since the story I pervious told you. A week ago, our Saint Mary’s youth group went fishing at Forest Hill Park as one of many future trips for our new fishing club. To be honest I never thought in a million years I would be helping organize a fishing club and yet here I am. But one thing that I learned that afternoon was the peace that fishing brought to many of the boys here. They would cast their line and wait and once they caught something, they took a moment to relish in the joy before releasing and moving on to a new spot. Though I personally felt impatient after each cast waiting for a fish to bite it seemed that they found sense of renewal through this process.
As I read the gospel for today, I was reminded of our youth’s comfort in waiting by the water. And I thought of our busy society today, how often times we are lacking the sense of joy in the process of waiting. Like our youth of Saint Mary’s, like the disciples waiting for the fish, we too can be found waiting for what is next in our lives. It can be hard for our curiosity and anxieties can get the best of us. But I wonder, what if we took a second to throw our nets to right side of the boat? What if we stopped to take a moment to listen to the other, to the stranger as Peter did? To truly listen to what they are saying. What would this look like? What would be revealed to us? What would our community show us as a need?
As you walk up to the alter today to receive the sacrament of Holy Communion. Think about your net and how you can fill it. Leaving today we are all asked to go out into this world as Christians to love and serve on another. Following the call of Jesus means to put our nets back in just one more time even if we are tired or too busy or frustrated. It is our call by Jesus to feed his sheep.