Today’s Gospel is from Chapter 21 of St. John’s Gospel. See Mass Readings for Today, nearby. It’s the story as told by the NET!
‘A NET, BURSTING’:
I was just sitting there, late that evening, minding my own business, in my usual place.
Seven big fellows were having a yarn, nearby. One of them was my boss. He said to his mates, ‘I’m going fishing!’, and they all decided to go with him. So they just grabbed me, and threw me into the back of the boat. The usual treatment! I knew some of the men;- John, Jim were locals from the village. Nat was from up the road about ten miles. I heard them call another one ‘Tom the Twin’. Two others I did not know,- but they were certainly not used to this kind of place. They all climbed in. Last of all, my boss Simon pushed the boat out and then climbed in. Two of them sat on me.-as usual! It was night.
All night long they just kept throwing me out on the water, dragging me along, then after a while drawing me in. I could see their disappointment,- there was nothing in me. I was empty. I did what they told me, but nothing happened. I felt useless. All those fish out there somewhere,- but I didn’t catch a thing. What kind of net am I, anyway?
The night went on. They tried and tried again. No dice. Nothing. Zilch! They were fed up. My boss was embarrassed, because after all it was his boat, and his idea to go fishing, and he brought these lads from town out for a night’s fishing. He was the expert here, and he had nothing to show for it.
The light was dawning now. As they turned the boat yet again, they said that there was someone standing on the shore, a hundred yards away or so. They didn’t know who he was, but he shouted across to the boat, ‘Catch nothing, lads?’ ‘Nothing’ was all they could shout back. Then the voice ‘Throw it to the RIGHT side, and you’ll be surprised what happens!’
The fishermen looked at each other. They were old hands at this job. They had tried all night and nothing happened. Who was this guy to tell them how to fish. Anyway, they listened. Once again, they took hold of me, and with a mighty heave threw me overboard again, in the direction the man on the shore had said. I can tell you this, I was expecting NOTHING. ‘Once more, NOTHING’ is what I said to myself as I hit the water and sank down.
Well, you should have seen what happened then. All these great big fish came straight toward me, threw themselves at me. I could hardly cope. They were jumping and leaping, and I seemed to be holding them all in my arms,- me who usually caught only small crabs and little fish and rubbish!- here I was now BURSTING! In all my years so far, nothing like this had ever happened to me. It hadn’t happened to my boss either, I can tell you. The big guys in the boat tried pulling me in, but just couldn’t do it,- there were just so many fish in me.
While they were shouting and laughing with delight, John (I remember the moment well) John the fisherman shouted to the other lads ‘LOOK, IT IS THE LORD!’ I didn’t know what he meant, but my boss surely did. He took one look towards the man on the shore, and grabbed his old cloak (for he was in his boxers) and just jumped in right beside where I was. He just left me, he did. Here was the biggest prize he had ever got, and he just leaves it all behind. I was disgusted. He swam towards the Man like he never swam before. That Man must have been someone real special for my boss.
Jim, John and the others began rowing,- very slowly because I was being dragged along behind, I was so full of jumping excited fish. They came to the beach, pulled the boat in out of the water, and just left me there still in the water.
The Man had a fire going. He had a few small loaves on top of it, and he asked my boss for some of the fish he had caught,- actually I had caught them, but that’s another matter. So, my boss (Simon) came over to me. I was really bursting, I was. And he started lifting out all the fish in me. I watched his face,- he was beaming. This had never happened to him in his life of fishing. All the fish were really big ones,- and here he was counting them,- one, two, three… and on he went. I couldn’t believe it when he came to the last and shouted over to the Man and to his friends ‘ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY THREE!’,- who would have believed it? It must have been the biggest catch any fisherman in the village had ever seen. I was so proud. And I hear the people are still talking about me, in every corner of the world,- ‘Did you hear about the net that caught so many fish, that day in Galilee?’
And do you know what he did then, my boss? He just threw me down there on the beach, near the fire. I was tired, but was I happy!
The Man by the fire? He had breakfast ready for them, and I tell you the men were hungry. He broke bread for them and gave it to them. He gave them some fish that I had brought in. The men seemed to know him well. They called him Jesus. They even called him LORD. Simon even told him that he LOVED him. I think they ALL loved him. Their eyes were so excited, and they were even hugging each other.
I’ve heard since that the Man, -the one they call the LORD- has that effect on people who come to him. They listen to him. He tells them to try another way of doing things. Amazing things happen. He sits down with them a lot, talks to them, spends time with them, and they talk to him a lot. He prepares meals for them which they love, and which fill the spot. And then, they seem to go out, all on fire, like, and bring lots and lots of others to meet their Friend. I tell you, if you think my net caught lots, you should see those friends of the Man, and the great
numbers they bring back to meet this Jesus who loves them so much.
You know what I think. Those men that day, and all the women and men since then,- they themselves seem like great big FISH that the MAN himself has caught in his embrace. And not only are they like FISH GATHERED IN, but they seem to do what I do,- they seem like NETS themselves, going out to others, telling them about JESUS their friend, and bringing them back to meet him.
I’m off now. I’ve a lot more fishing left in me yet. Throw me out into the deep water, please. The dawn has come. Today’s another day. Thanks for listening!
P.S. Well, it wasn’t really me that caught all those fish that day,- it was the Man on the shore that made it all happen. He just used me. I’m glad and thankful that he did. Hope he does it again. Gotta go!
(Author: Seamus Devitt C.Ss.R. firstname.lastname@example.org )