Easter Sunday3 C (18 Apr 2010)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
If Fishing Nets Could Speak, Peterʼs May Have Said This
I had long grown used to the stress and pull, and above all, the wet.
For my purpose from the very first was Simon Peter’s fishing net.
He found me in a souk near Caesarea-by-the-Sea and knew just
By a touch of hardened hands that I was the woven cord to trust
And toss out into the dark depths of his prized fishing haunts. With me
He'd more than fish. He'd gather people's meals: I’d earn him money.
So he thought. My white-with-silvered strands very quickly darkened
From water, sand and muck sun couldn't bleach. My fibers hardened,
Too, and soaked up quickly the shiny, scaly smells of Galilean trout.
I was knotted tightly and enjoyed that sinking pull and draw about
Schooling fish, which by day and night Simon and his brothers captured.
To their great surprise, and my wonder, their future lay in Jesus raptured.
It happened as easily as Peter found me with other nets: “Come along,”
He smiled and paid for me. Walking the shore Jesus sang a similar song.
You might say that Jesus fished for them and drew them in with ease.
No wonder he said they’d fish for people. They didn’t hear him tease.
Did you ever notice how others take to Jesus and on his words they lean?
Simon did, and he did not have far to look beyond his own dozen:
The first were fishermen, yes, who hoisted me and in arcs cast me in
Waters cold, clear and fresh. One was good with figures; another very young.
Another, a zealous activist; another—can you believe?—a thief of quiet tongue.
Jesus even bid a tax-collector to walk with them; Matthew upped and did so on the spot.
My owner, Simon, would have thrown him out—not back!—and hope that he would rot.
Quite a varied lot, and that was only four. One-third of a dirty dozen, you’d say.
It was just for them—for sinners, to use another word—that Jesus came this way.
More remarkable than that all ten & two were sinners is this single, simple fact:
No soul is without its darkened depths. They all responded to Jesus in his act
Of netting them, calling them, inviting them, to go deep and themselves to see
As God created them: the crown of creation now and even more-so in eternity.
“To the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and
Glory forever.” The disciples added to that echo when they made their stand:
‘We must heed God above all.’ Above all things, others, and even their self-concern,
Which brings me back to my story in all this, like going from stern to stem to stern.
My owner, Simon Peter, more than once said those days, “I am going fishing,” and did.
Some days he cast me far, with rage and roar and tears of grief that could not be hid
From others in his boat or from me. His tears fell on me and I felt their salty sting
In midair. I knew that Peter was grieving still: ‘I’m unfit to join my risen King,’
his heart pounded, ‘For I let him down.’ Vibrations like I’d known when my lines,
For hours at a time, embraced not a single fish, not a gill, in water without any signs
After those long, dark, damp stretches, Peter drew me out, like a baby from the womb.
Before Jesus died and after Jesus rose I, a lowly woven net, remained in Peter’s gear.
Even after Jesus rose, for a while, Peter was enmeshed, entwined in his deepest fear:
Guilt for denying the Man he loved with all his heart, the One who focused his passion
And gave his life meaning, purpose, clarity, too, and His witness in so keen a fashion.
Shame could no longer be. His grief held his heart from keeping up with Christ arisen
Until that day when I at Peter’s hands went down again for a starboard-side collision
With a school of finned, silv’ry swimmers. The point, 153 of them, so clearly made,
Was timely knowledge: no more kinds of fish than that could have been caught and laid
Ashore. Before your 21-first-century mind imperils your soul more, imagine this:
From 12 men to the totality of the human race in Jesus’ risen heart: that is Easter bliss,
The bliss we celebrate together here and try to live out each and everyday.
Jesus, dead and risen, netted this: no one, no net, no boat, no ingenious way.
In your 15 minutes with Jesus this week, let the Trinity’s joy brighten you.
Share in risen Jesus’ joy and vict’ry; ask for grace to let your faith shine through you.
Simon caught fish by casting me. Be like me and let Jesus work through all of you.
Form a knotted web of love, of hope, of faith. Come alive: in Jesus live your life
As his body now, the Church: each child, brother, sister, cousin, friend, husband, wife.
Wiki-image of Peter in a fishing boat is in the public domain. Wiki-image by Margret Hofheinz-Döring of fishing Peter is used according to the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.