I have met many people involved in the fishing industry over the years. People who get up at to set lobster traps, people who worked in processing plants, investors, mongers and their families. I have respect for each one. The fishers who encounter Jesus in our Gospel lesson are a people who fish, not for the love of it, or the sport of it – they fish to survive. If they catch no fish they go hungry and so too their families. But this story, a living parable, is not really about fishing at all.
The last thing a group of hardworking fishers want to do, after a long night of futile fishing is to cast their nets one more time. Yet, upon the instruction of Jesus they do, and not only do they catch fish, their nets burst with abundance. They have fish to eat, fish to sell and fish to dry.
One moment they feared walking home to hungry wives and children; now, the walk home was to the busy excitement of a bigger than usual catch. That day, for a few fishers, life was not just something to be survived but celebrated as abundant.
The fish in the story represent abundance. As a people of Christ we are to recognize the abundance of joy, forgiveness, mercy and love that comes to us through Jesus. Not only that, we are expected to tell others to cast their nets and receive the same abundance.
Parishes (like ours) would be well served to celebrate what we have, rather than lamenting what we don’t have. Not only is it simply more fun that way, but we are more likely to catch more people too.