From now on you will be catching people – 11 February 2019

As the sun dances on the sea, waves gentle rolling on to the sands, fishermen wash their netted pots. Let your eye move around this picture, and you can sense the heat and the breeze. The men are totally at ease with themselves and their occupation. They have been doing this all their lives, and expect to continue to do so. They understand how to catch fish.

This wonderful painting of the Fishermen of Valencia (1897) is by Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida, who had an unparalleled ability to paint sun drenched scenes. It is offered to you today for reflection on Sunday’s gospel reading. In this passage Jesus makes use of a fishing boat as a place from which to teach, and then he invites the fisherman to leave their occupation, and all that they know and understand, and follow him. Their response is to leave it all, be part of a different kind of boat, and from it fish for people.

 

Jesus saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.

Luke 5:2-6, 8-9, 11

He calls us all to step aboard his ship,
Take the adventure on this morning’s wing,
Raise sail with him, launch out into the deep,
Whatever storms or floods are threatening.
If faith gives way to doubt, or love to fear,
Then, as on Galilee, we’ll rouse the Lord,
For he is always with us and will hear
And make our peace with his creative Word,
Who made us, loved us, formed us and has set
All his beloved lovers in an ark;
Borne upwards by his Spirit, we will float

Above the rising waves, the falling dark,

As fellow pilgrims, driven towards that haven,

Where all will be redeemed, fulfilled, forgiven.

Malcolm Guite