Sunday, January 31, 2016

Luke 5.1-11: Fishing Boat

Note: Sunday, February 7, 2016, can be observed as Epiphany 5C or Transfiguration Sunday. This post looks at the gospel reading for Epiphany 5C. The post considering Transfiguration can be found here.

It would be easy to be sidetracked with fish. Certainly everyone who has ever dropped a hook in the water could be sidetracked. The gospel reading for Epiphany 5 (Luke 5:1-11) begins with Jesus again pressed by crowds and seeking refuge in a boat. As the reading continues, Jesus tells the disciples to put out to deep water, despite the fact that they had been fishing all night and caught nothing.

Finally, they catch something. Many somethings. Lots of fish. But there may be an even more interesting detail than a big catch of fish. That has to do with how these fish were brought into the boat. The fish start coming in to the point that the nets start to break. So they do something interesting (and often overlooked). They call their partners to help them.

Fishing wasn't the solitary activity of baiting a hook and dropping the line in the water. It was a group effort requiring teamwork. Nets were dragged through the water, and fish were trapped in the net before being pulled into the boat. Imagine a net full of fish. It isn't something that one person could do.

Perhaps that was the lesson the disciples were to take with them as they began to catch people (and note that here Jesus doesn't say that they will be fishing for people but rather that they will be catching people). When there are so many people, will we not need our partners? Will it be impossible to pull in all the fish by ourselves or with only the people in our boat? Will we need to call our partners in other boats?

How would you grade the artist below at capturing this aspect of the Epiphany 5 gospel reading? How do we do at calling our partners so that we may bring more fish into the boat?
Raphael. Miraculous Draught of Fishes. Cartoon. 1515. Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

For thoughts on Psalm 138, click here.
For thoughts on Isaiah 6:1-13, click here

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