Vicar’s Reflection: Go fish. 3rd of Epiphany, 26th January 2020
Peter, Andrew, James and John were called by Jesus to leave their nets, follow him and catch people, not fish. A sudden and enthusiastic change of direction! Did they understand what they were leaving behind? Not just nets, but a way of life, family obligations and a certain future? At the time in Palestine there was widespread poverty. Common people subsisted from day to day on meagre crops and paid heavy taxes to finance large building projects such as King Herod’s new Roman city of Sepphoris near Nazareth. Herod also transformed fishing into a large-scale industry by building large boats with slave crews and creating a centralised processing port at Magdala (which means ‘tower of fish’). This led to the collapse of small-scale family fishing enterprises. It is likely these four were looking for a new direction. When Jesus came along offering a new kingdom of fairness and equality they were immediately attracted. Jesus’ call to the first disciples took place within the complex economic, social and political realities of their time. So also when we hear Jesus’ call to us in our times we must recognise his calling within the context of the challenges and difficulties we face personally, and in the wider context of global climate change, erosion of democracy, disparities between rich and poor; and local issues such as domestic violence, drug use, homelessness. What nets do we leave, and how do we go fishing with the promise of a new kingdom for those in need today?