FISHING, not CATCHING

It has regrettably been awhile since I have taken time to go fishing. It is not the cheapest hobby to have with the cost of licenses, tackle and bait, and then not to mention my precious time! But it is something I enjoy and find relaxing. And now that I am Orthodox, I have plenty of reasons to eat fish!

In the past I have fished the ponds, lakes and rivers around where we live and taken a trip or two out on the big pond out of Oregon Inlet where the fish and waves are bigger as well as the cost. I have had the opportunity to fish with a lot of different folks over the years and you gotta know, being outdoors is much better than staring at a flat screen or being at work!

Some of the expeditions I have been on we have been “skunked” or fishless! We had the tackle, bait and the time but we didn’t catch a thing. After all, that is why they call it fishing and not catching! Now we may have had a bite or two and maybe even cranked one into the shore but the slippery thing got off the hook and swam away or the fish was too small to keep. And so it is with fishing, but each cast brings a new adventure and new possibilities!

Jesus is calling all of us to be good WILLING fishers!  Not the fish in the waters but His fish in the streams of life where you frequent. Look down and where your feet are planted is in His stream; and that is where you should be fishing! Some folks struggle to remember scripture and therefore believe they can’t fish, they pull their feet up out of His stream and try to blend in with the dumb rocks or the dry shore, sort of a camouflage in life, wasting precious harvest time. But how wrong they are!

Some folks continue to reflect upon their own failures and think they shouldn’t be fishing at all. But humility is a great asset to a fisher of men. And the greatest bait we have been given to attract all of these schools of fish, is love. Help people, invite folks to church, and pray for everyone you meet! Most folks are slippery and clever and only one thing will keep them coming back into the net of salvation, and that one thing is love. We’ll do the fishing; He’ll do the catching! The sacraments will help do the cleaning with through the work of the Holy Spirit!

We heard in the Gospel this morning at the doorway of the Apostles fast: “And He saith to them, “Come after Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” [Mt. 4:19] We should not be disappointed when folks jump out of our boat or discouraged when we think the hook is set firmly and yet they somehow swim away wagging their tail as they spit out the hook. That’s why they call it fishing and not catching! After all, they are His fish and He alone can grant them salvation. If they chose to swallow the bait and swim safely into His net, the church, they are on their way to salvation and will through growth, become a keeper.

Looking around I notice that we have plenty of room here in His net for more fish! Take some time this week to help with the harvest and cast some bait into His stream wherever you are, and know that you are never fishing alone. Hs is with you and will help you attract fish, even the slippery ones!

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 6-30-2019

FRIED TATERS

When I was of the age of being indestructible, I needed plenty of fuel to burn in my human high-output, workhorse engine. The fuel that seemed to make my engine run at its peak performance was any kind of meat and of course, fried potatoes. We had a rule at the farm table; you take it, you had better eat it! And most of the time, the serving bowl didn’t make it around the table twice! So when the serving bowl came around, I heaped it on! I was of the age where I could out work anyone and everyone, and still have a little throttle left to kick in if the need be. Being last was never in my wheelhouse and eating more than my share of fried potatoes was an extremely common occurrence.

Perhaps by God’s design as I have aged I have been less concerned about being first and maybe more concerned about just finishing as my high-performance human engine is showing signs of wear and tear. The view from the front seems to limit the view of those behind you and those who are struggling or less able, or those whom wounds continue to bleed and need binding. Over the years my priorities have changed from comfort to being un-comfortable. If you would have told me 20 years ago that I would be in a position to love and teach about God’s love I would have called you a liar! There was no time for that! I had to want and care about others salvation as I trained to express how great the love of God is! As we heard in the Gospel this morning: “But whosoever shall deny Me before men.” [Mt. 10:33] Something this good has to be shared! Nonparticipation, results in denial of Christ!

 

But it is that simple! Do you know that everyone is struggling? The weakest link in the chain needs reinforcing not isolation! “And whosoever taketh not his cross and followeth after Me is not worthy of Me. [Mt. 10:38] How can we love God and decide to ignore some of His creation, you know the folks that are BIG sinners and HELL-bent? Those who are not here with us today and maybe never will be or maybe we just have been too selfish with our hoarding of those fried potatoes and not cared enough about others? The serving bowl of opportunity only comes around occasionally for most of us and we should make that effort to care, deny ourselves and pick up our cross! I truly believe that there are no single passenger vehicles on the highway to the bosom of Abraham, but only high occupancy vehicles full of self-less souls. Less of my needs and more of others is that narrow path that leads to salvation.

“And everyone who leaveth houses, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, on account of My name, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit life everlasting. But many who are first shall be last, and the last first.”  [Mt. 19:27-30]

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 6-23-2019

EXACT REPLICA

Some years ago in my early teens, we had recently moved into a rental with a large yard of grass that always needed mowing. That was my job; I was the guy who could keep the push mower running in the humid beach weather and let me tell you, grass grows quickly in that climate! Granddad told me he had an old 5 hp Simplicity riding mower he would give me if I could make some repairs and get it running. After spending a number of days fixing it and just when I had things running as smooth as a used-car salesman’s tongue, the main drive pulley guide broke. I didn’t have the money to order a new one and I was really frustrated. Granddad said: “Why don’t you make one?” Now this part was made out of heavy 8 gauge wire with several bends and 5/16 bolt eyelets on each end.

Make one? Me? “There is no way one can be made” as I snapped back at him. I was leaving that weekend heading back home and had really hoped this 5 hp Simplicity riding mower was going to be a blessing in that large field of grass. After my snappy response I heard the screen door shut and saw Granddad heading out and I was thankful he didn’t thump me on his way out the door! Some two hours later, much to my disbelief, Granddad returned to the house with this belt guide he had made with his old arthritic hands, an exact replica!

Here in the Gospel this morning we hear another story about someone who can make the impossible, possible. We know that “the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground.” (Gen 2:7) and it was from this dust that the blind man was thus healed, “for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return!” (Gen 3:19) St. Basil the Great wrote: “We should understand in the creation the original cause of the Father as a founding cause, the cause of the Son as a creative, and the cause of the Spirit as an implementing one.” Thus God the Father is the “Creator of all things”, the Son is the one “through whom all things were made”, and the Holy Spirit is the one “in whom are all things”. “And God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good.”(Gen. 1:31) “First He conceived, and His conception was a work carried out by His Word, and perfectly by His Spirit.” Now after his encounter with Christ, the man born without eyes gained vision and recognized Jesus the Nazarene carpenter as truly the Son of God.

Now days, folks whose eyes seem to be functioning in this world are still blind from the eyes of their soul. When we see ourselves as inclined towards sin and everything in the world as God’s creation, our eyes are rinsed in the “pool of Siloam” [Jn. 9:7] and our soul gains a glimpse of light! If we fully acknowledge that we are need of repentance and act in love towards others as Christ has shown us, the Divine carpenter can bend and mold us into an exact replica of the One who walked on Earth and made the impossible, possible! Christ Is Risen!

Fr. Gabriel Weller 6-2-2019