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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Fishing in the Dark

The 3rd Sunday of Easter. 
(This homily was originally written by an unnamed source and adapted by Deacon Pat)
 If you know the original author please notify me so I may give due credit

When life gets difficult, when we become lost, confused, and afraid, when the changes of life are not want we wanted or think we deserve we tend to run away. We try to go back to the way it was before – to something safe, something familiar. Often we revert to old patterns of behavior and thinking. Even when we know better and do not want to go backwards it seems easier, safer, and more familiar, than moving forward.

Peter and six others have returned to the sea. They have left Jerusalem. They have come home to the Sea of Tiberius, the place where it all began. Discipleship, the upper room, the cross, the empty tomb, the house with its locked doors is some 80 miles to the South. 

Peter decides to go fishing. He knows how to do that. It is familiar and comfortable. Perhaps it takes him back to life before Jesus. The others are quick to join him. My hunch, however, is that Peter is not really trying to catch fish as much as he is fishing for answers. We can leave the places and even the people of our life but we can never escape ourselves or our life. Wherever you go, there you are. 

Peter may have left Jerusalem, but he cannot get away from three years of discipleship, the last supper, the arrest, the charcoal fire, the denials, the crowing rooster. He cannot leave behind the cross, the empty tomb, the house with the doors locked tight, the echoes of “Peace be with you,” So he fishes. Peter fishes for answers. What have I done? What were those three years about? Who was Jesus? Where is he? Who am I? What will I do now? Where will I go? What will happen to me? 

Peter is searching for meaning, a way forward, and a place in life. Peter is what many call “fishing in the dark.” We have all spent time fishing in the dark; asking the same questions as Peter, looking for our place in life, seeking peace, and some sense of understanding and meaning. More often than not, fishing in the dark happens in the context of the failures, losses, and sorrows of our lives. It happens when we come face to face with the things we have done and left undone. 

We have all been there, fishing for answers in the darkness. “Children, you have no fish, have you,” Jesus says. This is more a statement of fact than a question. Jesus is not asking for a fishing report. He is commenting on the reality and emptiness of Peter’s and the other disciples’ lives. Peter is living in the pain and the past of Good Friday. He is fishing on the Good Friday side of the boat and the net is empty. There are no fish, no answers, no way forward. The nets of this dark night fishing contain nothing to feed or nourish life.

I wonder if we too have been fishing on the wrong side of the boat? Jesus seems to think so. “Cast your net to the right side of the boat,” Jesus says, the resurrection side of the boat. This movement of the net from one side of the boat to the other symbolizes the disciples’ resurrection. It is the great Passover. 

Jesus calls us to move out of error into truth, out of sin into righteousness, out of death into life. In so doing we see and proclaim, “It is the Lord,” and
  • Emptiness gives way to the abundance of a net full of fish, large ones, a hundred fifty-three of them;
  • Darkness dawns a new day with new light;
  • A new charcoal fire kindles hospitality in place of the cold ashes of rejection;
  • The last supper has become the first breakfast;
  • Confessions of love overcome denials of fear.
“It is the Lord.” The Dark night fishing is over. This is Easter.
Good Friday was real, and is real. Pain, death, sin are a reality of life. But the greater and final reality is of the Easter resurrection. “Follow me,” Jesus says, “and live as resurrected people. Follow me and fish in a different place. Follow me.” 

“Follow me” is the invitation to examine where we have been fishing. On which side of the boat do we fish? On which side of the cross do we live? Do we live a life of Good Friday, or a life of Easter resurrection? Are we not a people of Hope, Trust, and Life...... We are alive, and have been given a gift of eternal life, a gift for all who embrace it!

We are to be filled with opportunism, hope, and joy, even despite what we see at times around us.... There is no power or circumstance on earth, more powerful than Christ, and he came so we may have life. But what type of life are we living? 

Take a moment and ask yourself this question: Do I live a life of Good Friday, or a life of Easter resurrection?

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