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Thoughts of a fisherman

Thoughts of a fisherman

Look at me sitting here by the shore – a Galilean fishermen who doesn’t know what to do.  If only I could be alone and think, I might be able to find myself, after all that has happened.  I’ve been down to the nadir and back; raised to the zenith and then left.  Left with a promise, yes, but what does it mean?  If only I could be alone to pray… yet when I am alone, when I do pray, I find I cannot: there is so much in my head, clamouring for attention that I cannot banish it all, and find a space for my prayer.  Praying was as natural as fishing when Jesus was with us, but now my world has turned on its head and I don’t know where I am any more.  I want to go fishing.  I bet they do too.


“I’m going fishing.”

“We’ll come with you.”

* * * * *

The third watch of the night and still nothing.  No fish, but my mind is clear.  As a younger man, I’d be frustrated and grumpy with an empty net but now I see that this has been no wasted trip.  These others, my brothers, they feel the same.  We answered that call to follow Jesus.  We saw amazing things, though we failed to understand.  We learned so much, grew so much.  We are still the same men, yet we see differently now.  There’s so much to re-learn, to synthesise…  We are Galilean fishermen, caught out of our depth in this unfathomable love.

There’s Thomas.  The Lord knew he had not believed our words, yet he did not chastise him.  Instead what an honour the Lord gave him!   What a beautiful act of adoration!  Look at him now, at the helm of this boat, serenity radiating from him.

And next to him, Nathanael.  It seems like yesterday that he doubted too –  ‘can anything good come from Nazareth?’ Yet did Jesus – who knows our thoughts as we do – rebuke him for that?  No.  He saw Nathanael’s greatest virtue, for that man is incapable of deceit, it is true.  I, who had known him since we were boys in Bethsaida had never seen that great honest soul for what he is.  Oh, would that you were that honest, Simon Peter!  Nathanael would never have disowned our Lord!

* * * * *

I’m a different man now – Jesus is here; we are together again.  I have breakfast inside me, a fire to warm me (though even sitting here by this one reminds me of that other one, and I feel sick, to the pit of my belly) and a catch – what a catch!  Here’s John now, to sit beside me.  How did he recognise the Lord from the boat at such a great distance?  Are his young eyes so much keener than mine?  He has a vision, though, that we don’t have; he sees, perceives, understands.  Ah, now, time to raise yourself, you great ox, for the Master is here and calls you!


‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these others do?’

‘Yes Lord, you know I love you.’

‘Feed my lambs.’

That he need ask!  I would die for love of Jesus and yet he needed to ask me that.  O faint heart, how you have failed me!  See what you have done, poisonous tongue!


‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’

‘Yes, Lord, you know I love you.’

‘Look after my sheep.’

But think, you great ox, he knows you love him.  Why, then, does he ask?  He has no need of your affirmation, so why?  Why… oh my proud soul, I understand (is this how it feels to be John?)!  He asks not for his own sake, but mine.  He is generosity itself…  Away with you, tears!  Young John is behind us: I pray he doesn’t see this old man cry…’


‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’

‘Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.’

‘Feed my sheep.’



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