Goin' Fishing


It has always struck me as odd.  Who goes fishing the week after one’s dearest friend has been crucified and then goes missing from his tomb?  Well, the answer is Peter apparently.  This coming Friday’s Gospel passage opens with Peter announcing, “I’m going fishing,” and then a number of Jesus’ other disciples joining in, “We are going with you.” Seriously?  Fishing? 

I’ve long read it as a sign they were going backward… back to their old lives before they met Jesus. Maybe like the disciples on the road to Emmaus were perhaps going back to where they came from in disappointment. The whole Jesus thing had turned too weird and they weren’t quite sure what to do with all the competing narratives about the events that had taken place in Jerusalem.

But in reading a few commentaries while getting ready to preach for The Word on April 5, another possibility opened up:  Sometimes we go back to where something started to get clues about how to go forward.  True, sometimes I’ve returned to a place where I’ve shared an amazing memory with someone to reignite that relationship again.  Or when I’m fishing for a great idea, I’ll go sit in a place where I’ve had a great idea dawn before.  We “go fishing” when things are a bit unclear.  We aren’t sure yet what we’ll catch, but we gotta start somewhere, so why not cast a line and see what bites?   “Going fishing” signifies an openness to the future even as it is still fuzzy.  Kudos to Peter for knowing where he needed to go and “be” while waiting for the path forward to reveal itself, which of course is exactly what happens in the verses that follow. 

Is there any place you need to go back to from your past in order to wait for clues about how to move forward?   Something to think about. 

As much as I don’t like thinking about it, I realize that part of my past that I need to revisit this year in anticipation of the coming November election is the earlier work I did on truth and social media between 2016-2021.  This is not exactly where I would like to go back to. Frankly, if I never had to talk again about why truth is paramount in our lives as Christians and why we need to show up on social media in a way that honors that value, well, that would be just fine with me.  It is soooo obvious to me that misinformation, disinformation, polarizing rhetoric, and blatant lying are destroying the fabric of our common life that I cannot fathom why they are still part of our daily existence.  Why are we even entertaining behavior of this nature much less justifying it?  But so it is.

A couple of signs of hope that are perhaps giving clues for what “forward” might look like on this front: The bishops of Canada have a lovely, very readable new pastoral letter out on the right use of social media as Christians.  It is called “Let Your Speech Always Be Gracious.”    One of my own favorite lines found in paragraph #31: 

“Our expectation is that our own Catholic institutions and media outlets will hold themselves to the highest standard in assuring that their online posting adheres to the greatest degree of accuracy and truthfulness possible, while also prioritizing Christian charity and human dignity. Others will model what they see us doing, and we want to demonstrate great virtue in this regard.”

It would be awesome if the U.S. bishops might also put out something on this topic before the coming election, but meanwhile this letter from our ecclesial neighbors to the North makes for a great discussion.

I’ve also become aware recently of the work of Smart Families which coordinates efforts in Catholic schools (and hopefully soon even beyond Catholic schools) to have parents sign a pledge not to give their children access to a smart phone until after 8th grade.  The research on this is clear: Phones are not great for kids’ mental health and social development.  Maybe their efforts would be something to look at in your own neck of the woods!   I’ve shared with them the school parent discussion guides that accompany my book #Rules_of_Engagement.  You can check these free guides out yourself to see if they are something your own local school or parish community might benefit from as well.    An added perk:  #Rules_of_Engagement is on Super Sale at Ave Maria Press through April 19. If you don’t already have a copy, they are available for only $4… but only through April 19.  At that price you can give them in bulk for alllllll the school parents you know!   

Please feel free to share these resources with anyone you know who might be interested as we fish in these turbulent waters again together.

PS.  Have you been following the recent episodes of Waking Up Goliath?  I've got three great new episodes that came out in short success with three wonderful people:  Dennis Gonzales of Catholic Health Association; Eric LeCompte of Jubilee; and Rev. Jenni Ho-Huan, a church planter in Singapore!  You can find them all on Apple or Spotify.  

(Photo credit: Jonathan Zerger (Unsplash)