Aloha Friday Message – January 19, 2018 – Fish Catch

1803AFC011918 – Fish Catch

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John 1:14-15 14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! This coming Sunday, many of us will be reading an excerpt from the book of Jonah. One of the most popular stories circulating on the Internet is about the little girl and her teacher discussing Jonah’s story: A little girl was talking to her teacher about whales. The teacher said it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a human because even though it was a very large mammal its throat was very small. The little girl stated that Jonah was swallowed by a whale. Irritated, the teacher reiterated that a whale could not swallow a human; it was physically impossible. The little girl said, “When I get to heaven I will ask Jonah!” The teacher asked, “What if Jonah went to hell?” The little girl replied, “Well, then you can ask him.” Jonah was called to get a job done. Among the Aloha Friday Messages there are several essays about being called. In some of those writings, the person(s) called responded, in others, they did not. Recently we’ve written about The Church and those who were called, answered the call, and then went back to their former lives. Today, I want to look into a few of those persons who answered the call and followed through. Let’s start with Jonah.

You will remember that God called out to Jonah and told him he was to go to Nineveh, but Jonah disobeyed and ran away. Jonah 1:1-3 1 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai, saying, “Go at once to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah set out to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid his fare and went on board, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord. He was on that ship when a huge storm came up and the sailors cast lots to find out who had brought this great misfortune upon them. Ships sailing to and from Tarshish bore fantastic treasures of silver, gold, iron, lead, and tin. A ship in such a storm would mean a great loss in lives and cargo. When they had cast the lots, Jonah was identified as the “source of the problem.” He came up with a very surprising solution. He told them to throw him overboard!

Jonah 1:15-17 15 So they picked Jonah up and threw him into the sea; and the sea ceased from its raging. 16 Then the men feared the Lord even more, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows. 17 But the Lord provided a large fish to swallow up Jonah; and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. This is where I’m supposed to point out the Bible doesn’t say “whale;” it says “great fish.” How did Jonah survive in the belly of a great fish for three days and three nights? It’s a mystery, one that prefigures Christ’s death and burial. However it came about, Jonah was apparently convinced the Lord meant business because he prayed for his life:

Jonah 2:8-10 “Those who worship vain idols forsake their true loyalty. But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Deliverance belongs to the Lord!” 10 Then the Lord spoke to the fish, and it spewed Jonah out upon the dry land.

Jonah repented and obeyed. He went on to carry out his mission of prophecy against the people of Nineveh. Jonah 3:1-5 1 The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth.

Sackcloth in the Bible is a cloth made of black goats’ hair. It was prickly, itchy, and fairly heavy. As the name implies, it was used for sacks, and also worn by those in mourning or – along with ashes – as a sign of deep repentance. Nineveh “heard the word and repented.” When Jonah’s message was understood – that Nineveh would be overthrown – they [1] believed, [2] fasted, and [3] humbled themselves in repentance. Our key verse for today has pretty much the same formula: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” Nineveh was spared because a fish caught Jonah – sort of the reverse of what happens when humans go to catch a fish. We may recall that Jesus was particularly interested in fishermen. His first Disciples were fishermen – Andrew and his brother Peter (see last week’s post). Just a few words farther down the page in the Gospel of Mark we see that Jesus’ call to several fishermen was a life-changing experience. I’m going to put the whole passage here so you don’t have to look it up. (But it would be wonderful if you went and found your Bible to look it up or even clicked on the link I provide so you can see it in three different versions!) Mark 1:16-20 16 As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him. We have two sets of brothers who may have been business partners. They were called and left everything – nets, boats, family, coworkers (“hired men”) – and followed him. They had been catching fish for a living, now the fish were less important than following Jesus. FOLKS, THEY CHOSE TO FOLLOW HIM. They left everything because Jesus said “Follow me and I will make you Fishers of Men (↔ Music Link). Many are called, few are chosen. (See Matthew 22:14) Some were apparently either not called or ignored the call:

Zebedee, the hired men, Thomas’s twin, Peter’s wife and his mother-in-law, the bride and groom at Cana, the boy with the loaves and fishes (brought to Jesus by Andrew), the man carrying the water jug who leads the way to The Upper Room, the person who owned The Upper Room; the man who owned the donkey and the foal; these are not called by Jesus, and except for Zebedee we do not know their names. Of the Twelve who were called, we know their names and smatterings of their history. We know they were called by Jesus. Some who were called turned away, like “the rich young ruler.” The ones who answered the call became The Church. The ones who lived the call became the saints. BUT “those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (See John 3:16-21 especially verse 18)

Fish and fishermen figure prominently in Jesus miracles: The feeding of the 5000 and the 4000, the Great Catch (See Luke 5:1-11), Jesus’ third appearance to the Disciples after his resurrection (See John 21:4-14), and the fish with the coin in its mouth (See Matthew 17:27).

Answering the call of Jesus is undoubtedly a life-changing experience. We give up the life of sin and paganism and live in Christ’s Law of Love as The Church. If we return to that life, we choose to fail to do what is right and willfully do what is wrong which means we are living outside The Church. Go back to last week’s post and read 1 Corinthians 6:9-20. If those who are in The Church receive the same condemnation as those who are outside The Church, then what sort of Eternity awaits whose who deny The Church by denying The Lord? Are all to be saved? Will all repent and believe the Gospel? Do me a solid and check out these two verses, then answer me, “What must we do to be saved?”

A Gaelic Prayer

See Matthew 10:32-33 and Luke 9:26. C’mon, you’ve got to be at least a little curious! Are we going to catch the fish, is the fish going to catch us, or are we in the desert of The World where no one can fish and no fish can be caught? Are we doing anything to catch people for God? Suppose we learned we have “forty days” left? Would burlap be a good substitute for sackcloth? If God is already crazy in love with us, shouldn’t we reciprocate? What are you doing, what am I doing, what are we doing to impress God with our worship and awe? Whatever it is, we should stop and just go with Psalm 63: “Step by step You’ll lead me and I will follow you all of my days.” (↔ Music Link) Matthew 9:9b … and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.

As the hand is meant for holding and the eye for seeing, you have created me for JOY, O God. Share with me in finding that joy everywhere: in the violet’s beauty, in the lark’s melody, in the child’s face, in a mother’s love, in the purity of Jesus. Amen.

Traditional Gaelic Prayer

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd!

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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