Reflections from The Hill – Fishing or What?
You’ve probably seen it yourself: a 4WD spare wheel cover with the slogan: “Old fishermen never die, they just smell that way.” It’s a version of bumper-sticker humour that should be funny but isn’t.
While the vocation might be of interest to Jesus, I don’t think he would have been switched on by the sentiment. There’s something crass about it.
Mind you, those little metallic lapel badges shaped liked a fish hook, or the ubiquitous tee-shirts with “Gone fishin’” on them are in the same stomach-emptying category.
If I wasn’t already on the Jesus Team, I’m not sure I’d respond that well to someone wanting to ‘catch me for Jesus’. It’s hardly a way to tell of God’s grace, whatever way you look at it.
“Oo”, they say “there’s a new one. What kind of bait are we going to use with him?” Talk about being de-humanised.
Frankly, the fishing metaphor puts me off. I don’t enjoy fishing much anyway, but, even if I did, as the main metaphor for evangelism, it’s questionable at best.
There are no quibbles about the purpose of the metaphor: having people become followers of Jesus is The Main Game, no sweat. It’s the invitation(s) that could do with some editing.
I mean, what if Simon and Andrew were carpenters or financiers or apothecaries or camel traders? My guess is that, for them, fishing – if they were interested at all – would have been a pastime, not their core business, as they say.
Maybe one of the reasons why our efforts in evangelism are so innocuous is because we’re trying to fit two things together that don’t go, hoping to turn a pastime into a vocation.
Jesus called these two to be fishers of people because that’s what they were – fishermen. His invitation fitted who they were. Their vocation fitted their identity.
Whether we are a solicitor or a stay-at-home parent, a nurse or a nanny, a ditch digger or a detective, Jesus calls us to use the talents and strengths and knowledge and passions we have to make a unique contribution to the
. Kingdom of God
We don’t have to be something we aren’t to be a follower of Jesus. Each of us knows that already. It’s nothing new. What is new is that we don’t have to like fishing to be an evangelist.
More than that, in shaking our definition of evangelism by suggesting that Jesus is more interested in who we are than in what we do, we are set free from being someone we aren’t.
When He calls, as today’s Gospel clearly indicates that He does, it means that we should quit focussing on who we aren’t and start leaning a bit more on who we are; that we should stop using our vocation as an excuse for not engaging in evangelism.
The down-side, as Max Lucado says, is that when we don’t start from who we are, we end up fighting with one other. We start looking for warts on everyone else’s face and it’s a slippery slope from there.
When energy intended to be focussed outside is used inside, the result is explosive. Instead of casting nets, we cast stones. Instead of being fishers of the lost, we become critics of the saved; instead of helping the hurting, we hurt the helpers.
“Be who you are. See what you have. Do what matters” is a slogan I read recently. It sums up what this week’s Reflection is about.
Imagine if everyone in our Church lived with that as their slogan. Imagine everyone hearing Jesus’ invitation to follow him as being about who they were and not what they do. Imagine what impact that would have on our community.