My Matushka and I were vacationing a decade or so ago in Mexico and we had the opportunity to go deep water fishing. We boarded a 32-footer and trusted our journey to the good captain Carlos as we headed out in the Gulf of Mexico. It was a lengthy journey as we rounded the coast of Cuba and headed into the Gulf Stream. The first mate baited the hooks and we patiently waited for anything to bite. After watching my milky skin turn reddish as we waited and waited and watching the day draw nearer to a close, all of a sudden the fishing reel begin to sing as a fish grabbed the hook and plunged deep into the gulf waters. My wife took her turn first as the first mate strapped her in the fighting chair on the back or stern of the boat. After 20 or 30 minutes, Matushka was tired but keep on fighting, that’s the Irish in her! When the sail fish would leap out of the water, Matushka would get reenergized and keep on cranking in the line bringing this big fish closer to the boat. Finally after a 45 minute battle the fish was in the boat. We donated the meat to the local restaurants but keep the bill and fin to have a plastic fish replicated and mounted so we could look back over the years and recount our great adventure. My wife chose to take the mounted fish to work and hang it on the wall for all the men to see and drool over her expertise! After all, I did not boat a fish, but that is another fishing story!
Unlike the Gospel reading today, Matushka had no net; her goal was to catch one fish at a time! It did take all day and we only caught one fish, but that one fish was a whopper!! We stayed the course; after all a bad day fishing is better than a good day at work! For those folks that haven’t fished or don’t like to fish, Christ has a different fishing proposition for you! Our Lord has promised to make us all fishers of men. (Luke 5:10) You catch them and He will clean them! It does seem to be a lot like fishing in that you have to put the time in and you need to be in the water. And of course, sometimes you have a bite and sometimes you just enjoy nature and become radiant in His presence.
Archpriest John Moses said many times, that people wanting to be caught in the net of salvation are like herding cats. Cats and people have their own agenda and have to make a daily decision to swim into the net or go around and be free in their worldly choices. But let me convince you to take the time to fish for our Lord’s sake! Our Creator made us all keepers in His image. Some of us have been in the net before but escaped His love as our woundedness escalated our need to escape and be unattached. Being unattached is another word for saying that they are very vulnerable to deception. Listen to wisdom of St. Diadochus of Photike: "All of us who are human beings are in the image of God. But to be in his likeness belongs only to those who by great love have attached their freedom to God." These attached folks are not only in the net but are now in the boat!
Blessed Theophylact reminds us: "Merely to hear the word of God saves no one and is instead a condemnation. After hearing, one must do."(Explanation of the Holy Gospel of St. Luke; Chrysostom Press pg. 86) You really do have what is desirable to be a great fisherman. Different types of fish are attracted to different type of bait, or in other words, the gifts you have been given will attract different fish than others. That is why you are needed. The whole world needs a Savior!
You have been given the greatest net to catch with as well! Listen to His instructions: “’But I say to you,’ the Lord says, "love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, pray for those who persecute you.’ St. Maximus asks: Why did he command these things? So that he might free you from hatred, sadness, anger and grudges, and might grant you the greatest possession of all, perfect love, which is impossible to possess except by the one who loves all equally in imitation of God.” (St. Maximus the Confessor)