In the summers when the sun was leaving the open room and the crickets began to chant their praises, Grandma Hazel would get the spade shovel, a small bucket, her catgut thread and some fish hooks and head out to her secret earthworm stash. We kids would gather the worms quickly as Grandma overturned blocks, boards and mulch and after we had gathered enough bait, through the gates and barnyard and down to the fishing pond we would go!
Along the bank of the pond, Grandma had planted towering Weeping Willow trees which danced in the breeze and also supplied us with ample willow fishing poles. The Willow sticks had plenty of flexibility in them just in case we latched onto a big fish. She would tie the catgut thread onto the willow and attach a hook to the thread with a special knot, one that would hold firmly. We always had fun and caught fish, mostly sun perch. I also usually caught a tree branch or two and found that this behavior also continued later in life as I hung many a fishing lure on a tree branch or on the living flesh of a fishing companion. Nothing says you are hooked better than a triple hook attached to somewhere to your hide!
Maybe there should be a sense of fear or a fair warning to go fishing with me or at least it would it be a good idea to be very alert as my aim of casting has probably become even less accurate. The fishermen in the Gospel reading this morning were not so accurate either (Luke 5:1-11), they had fished all night and not caught a thing but our Lord filled their nets and then asked them to come and fish in His waters for the salvation of the world. And that they did! You too should put away your nets, fishing rods, tools and laptops and spend time casting His nets into the stream of life. There are plenty of hungry souls needing to be fed!
Don’t hesitate do go fishing for our Lord. As He clearly stated: “On this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18) St. Barsanuphius writes: Having God, fear nothing, but cast all of your care upon Him, and He will take care of you. Believe undoubtingly, and God will help you according to His mercy. (St. Barsanuphius the Great, Instructions, 166)
Back when I didn’t know our Lord I was skeptical of being caught in the net of church-going folks promising something that seemed not true to me or at least not yet. My life reeked of free-will but finally and after escaping many a hook and net I willingly decided to seek a life in our Lord. Many attempts had been made and folks didn’t give up, they kept fishing. They cared! That’s why Jesus calls it fishing instead of catching! He will provide you with everything you need when you are filling His nets and building His church. And the mighty gates of hell will be plundered by Christ in us. The gates of hell cannot block this army of His fishermen from sharing the Love of Christ. He is Triumphant. “Cease being afraid; from henceforth thou shalt be taking men alive.” [Lk. 5:10]
Fr. Gabriel Weller 10-6-2019