Scripture for this Sunday:
Isaiah 6.1-8; Psalm 138; 1 Corinthians 15.1-11; Luke 5.1-11
The Synod of the Archdeaconry of Gibraltar took place during the past week. The theme of the Synod was ‘Building the Body of Christ,’ which was developed in the context of the tide of anxiety and fear that threatens the world.
Bishop David Hamid, preaching on this, drew us to consider the disciples, locked in an upper room after crucifixion, out of fear. But Jesus was not obstructed by walls and locked doors. Nor will he ever be, not even by the locked doors of our hearts nor the walls of our closed minds.
This might make some people uncomfortable – even fearful! But this is just the beginning. We continue through the season of Epiphany, when we contemplate the nature of Christ and the way he is revealed. One recurring theme of this is that Jesus is far from ‘meek and mild,’ but actually quite scary at times.
Peter, confronted by both a net full of fish and his reluctance to believe in Jesus felt overwhelmed – afraid, in fact. And his reaction? “Please go away, Jesus.” Jesus overlooked his words, his lack of faith, his sin in general, and simply told him that he was to be fishing for people in future. Are these reassuring words? Probably not. Fish are one thing; people are another.
All this ought to lead us to treat Jesus with – at least – respect. While it is true that our faith teaches that Jesus is revealed as the approachable face of an otherwise unseen, unknowable God, bridging the gap between God and humanity, and while Jesus can be a friend for all, and a welcome companion on life’s journey, this does not mean that he cannot be at least a little scary at times.
As our Bishop told us, the world is not short of sources of anxiety and fear. It’s very easy to feel, like the disciples, that we have been casting our nets through a long, dark night, with nothing to show for it. But if we are to be building the Body of Christ, then we are called to take up our nets, open our doors, dismantle walls, celebrate union with others in the body of Christ, seek to enjoy unity in diversity – and join Jesus on a scary expedition, fishing for people.