Fishing Wisdom from a Non-Fisherman

St. Gregory the Great, Pope & Doctor


Jesus was a carpenter’s son. It makes sense he would have been a carpenter himself. So how does one who knows nothing of fishing invite others to become fishers of men? Well, for that matter neither was he a shepherd by profession yet he claimed to be the shepherd of God’s flock. We can always see it as a metaphor, an image of a much deeper truth that needed expression in language we can find relatable. It was a constant challenge for Jesus having to reveal divine truths without adequate images his audience could grasp. So he spoke in parables a lot using such common images as vineyards and wheat fields and fishing and shepherding. If his listeners failed to make that deeper connection, they at least may have come away with some sense of wonder that gave them reason to come back to listen some more. Faith is both God’s invitation and our response to that invitation. God alone can give faith. Sometimes all we can do is marvel at his foolishness.

St. Paul compares human wisdom and God’s foolishness in the first reading. As much as we try to rely on human reason and common sense, people of faith recognize their inadequacy at times. It’s difficult to describe. But we all know occasions when God’s foolishness was more effective than the supposed wisdom of proven experts and recognized authorities especially on matters involving the human spirit. And in hindsight we discover how sensible God’s foolishness often is. We just weren’t paying close attention. Our our claims to expertise prevented us from noticing the obvious.

Put out into deep water. Go where the fish are. They won’t come to you. Shepherding is about tending those who are already part of the flock. Fishing is about attracting and welcoming those who are not yet in the fold … or the net so we don’t mix metaphors. Shepherding is an image of parish life firmly established and ordered. Fishing is an image of missionary work. But wherever we are we are both shepherds and fishermen & women.

This mass was offered for the repose of +Irvin Butler.

Rolo B Castillo © 2020