Our Lord Jesus wasn’t a fisherman or a farmer and so his comments on fishing and farming are always interesting to me – also neither a fisherman or a farmer. When I read today’s Gospel story of the Resurrection Breakfast on lake Tiberias (John 21: 1-14), I’m struck by Jesus telling the disciples to do the hard work on the other side of the boat.
Hmmm. Maybe if Jesus had said ‘row to the little point over there’ or ‘go deeper’, it would have made sense to me. But pulling up the net and then playing it out on the other side of the fishing boat. Really?
I sit with this in my own life. Maybe the Lord is saying to my in my over-efforted, under-rewarded life that I’m in the right place, with the right equipment, with the right companions, but throwing my net out on the wrong side of my boat.
I imagine this is a quite a difficult task. I’m told by sportspeople that one’s body adapts to habitual ways of working. So Simon Peter probably had a favoured side for throwing out and hauling in his net – maybe a customary side. I know I have my favoured side for many thing.
Maybe then we have favoured ways of reacting to situations and experiences. I do.
Then the Lord – not a fisherman – tells the fishermen to do the absurd – to throw the net over the other side. Not to row round and haul it in from the other side but to completely restart with the same companions, in the same boat, with the same equipment in the same place, but with doing things in an un-favoured and unfamiliar way.
If I apply this to my own life and situation, I wonder what my work would become? And my parish, and my ministry?
And my friendships?
I’m not sure how to throw the net out the other side. I’m really not sure what that means. I’m reassured that in doing so, Simon Peter’s failed expedition turns into a great haul -so many that the number of fish is remembered down the years to the writing of John’s Gospel.
I’m also reassured that when the boat finally makes it to the place where Jesus stands with the near-naked Simon Peter, it is the same Simon Peter who hauls the huge catch ashore by himself.
Throw your net over the other side and see what haul and strength you might find. That’s what I’m trying today.