Tiberias, Galilee, Peter, Jesus, Marge Fenelon, Fishing

I’m not much for fishing.

Not only do I have no patience for it, but I also have a terrible fear of water. On my first attempts at fishing with my husband and kids when they were small, I was so freaked out I demanded that we keep the boat right close to shore the whole time. We had to stay in shallow water so that, in case somebody fell out, they could just stand up and not drown. Needless to say, there weren’t many fish caught when Mom was along.

Now when we go into the North Woods of Wisconsin, I’ll take a couple of boat rides with the family and then let the fishermen fish. Makes for a far more happy and harmonious vacation, let me tell you.

But, there is one time that I actually get a hankering to go fishing and that’s whenever I hear today’s Gospel Reading.

It’s taken from John’s Gospel and relays one of the post-Resurrection appearances of our Lord. Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, John, James, Zebedee’s sons, and two other unnamed disciples were fishing on the Sea of Tiberias.

After an entire night, they haven’t caught a single fish. Then, a figure appears on the shore and this happens:

[The figure] said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?”
They answered him, “No.”
So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat
and you will find something.”
So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish. (Jn 21:6)

Peter recognizes the figure as Jesus, jumps out of the boat, and heads toward him while the others lug their haul of fish to shore. When they reach shore, they discover that our Lord has been cooking breakfast for them and has it all ready for them to eat.

I cannot, cannot read or listen to that passage without falling into copious, sappy tears.

In our Catholic formation, we’re often told to put ourselves in the place of the Apostles, as all that Jesus said to, or did for them is meant for us as well.

The thought of Jesus – my Lord, my Savior, my All – making and serving breakfast to me touches my heart so deeply that I just can’t hold it together.

When I was in the Holy Land, I saw the rock upon which our Lord served breakfast to Peter and his companions. I sobbed. And sobbed. And sobbed. That our Lord in his Risen Glory would do something so simple, so natural, and so humble for his disciples absolutely melts me. That he would do the very same for me absolutely overwhelms me. That grabs me every time this Gospel pops up in the Liturgy.

This time around, though, I’m grabbed by something else as well.

Jesus tells the disciples to cast their net to the other side of the boat. That’s not because he’s an expert fisherman or because he has any inside info on fishy swim patterns (or whatever they call it). He does know those things because he’s God, but that’s not what going on here.

Jesus tells them to cast the net to the other side of the boat because, I believe, he is making a vital point for all of us.

If you’re diligently fishing and the net still comes up empty, you’re fishing on the wrong side of the boat.

Project not working out for you? Try the other side of the boat.

Relationship not working out for you? Try the other side of the boat.

Prayer life not working out for you? Try the other side of the boat.

Whatever it is that’s not working out for you, try the other side of the boat.

Notice in the Gospel passage that Jesus does not say, “Pull your net in and forget about it.” He doesn’t say, “Give up for today and try again some other time.”

He says, quite pointedly, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat
and you will find something.”

When things – any things – aren’t working out for us, it means we’re fishing on the wrong side of the boat. We’re fishing on our side of the boat rather than on God’s side.

I’m hankering to go fishing, to cast my net on the right side of the boat and to see what I pull up. I don’t know what that will be, but I do know it will be a bountiful blessing.

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LYN · March 29, 2018 at 4:19 pm

Thank you for this article. It just says it all. I know I’ve fished out of my side of the boat many times and this speaks to me.

‘Dami · October 25, 2018 at 1:33 am

How timely! Thanks so much for sharing – and yes that focus on our Lord already having prepared breakfast is the best!

Logan Pillay · November 12, 2018 at 10:25 am

Cast your nets on the right side would mean : now that I have accomplished the task the Father sent me to do ( notice here He is alive ,risen from the grave in a few days from now he will be in heaven ,)the point he’s making here that if u want to see the manifestation of God in your life ,the law of Moses kept u in bondage all your life ( which is the wrong side (this was the agreement made between God & man -in the old covenant -where u have to perform or do something first then God will bless u,if u do good then God will be good to u ,if u do bad and don’t keep all of the law ,if u keep the law u have to keep all of it the whole 613 laws if u fail one u violated all of the laws .jesus says to Simon serve me under grace not under law of Moses ,Under grace Simon is not condemned for denying the lord ,The right side ,would be the New Covenant -the covenant of Grace ,an agreement made between God the Father & Jesus ,even if we are not faithful He will remain faithful,under grace we don’t have to perform if u are in Christ u are no longer condemned ,under the law it’s what God demanded from u in order to be blessed but under Grace ,because of what Jesus did for u,u no longer have to earn your blessings & salvation but only believe in Jesus & His finished works on the cross & through His grace u will see God manifesting in your life ,under grace u will not have to fish all night ( u will not suffer lack ,Believe in the finished works of Christ ,Grace has already provided healing ,deliverance ,soundness ,salvation ,blessings ,peace & joy in the Holy Gohst ,abundant life etc .notice even after all what He’s done for u on the cross (finished works) He still wants to be with u,eat with u ,make breakfast for u ,Jesus loves u so so much He will not abandon u ,He’s always there good times & difficult times in your life ,all he asking is for u to trus Him & believe in Him ,have faith in what Jesus has done for u 2000 yrs ago Heb 8:6 -13 & Gal 3:13 & Rom 5 :12-21 & Rom 6:14

    Alvin · August 1, 2019 at 10:22 am

    A Joseph Prince sermon? Nice one – God lead me here and I read your explanation. God put this verse on my mind -never thought that I would encounter grace believer here.

David Smith · April 1, 2019 at 12:41 pm

I am researching this passage for a sermon on May 5th. I was puzzled by the directive to cast your net on the other side of the boat. If they were using a trammel net that would not have been possible since it is towed behind the boat. If it was a drag net, it would require more than one boat . Cast nets are generally only used in shallow water, or to entrap fish already surrounded by another net. The side of the boat you fish from is largely determined by wind direction. I want to visualize what took place, and it isn’t coming together for me. Any ideas?

    Darrell Robinson · July 5, 2019 at 3:31 pm

    Bro. SMITH you are simply looking at it from an fleshly perspective. That’s being carnal minded. You have look at The Lord and what He is saying and doing in the spiritual

      Marge Fenelon · July 5, 2019 at 4:25 pm

      This is a good point, Darrell. Thank you for commenting. Bro. Smith, was this helpful to you?

      Dave Smith · July 6, 2019 at 6:40 am

      Google defines “carnal” as follows: relating to physical, especially sexual, needs and activities.
      “carnal desire”
      synonyms: sexual, sensual, erotic, lustful, lascivious, libidinous, lecherous, licentious, lewd, prurient, salacious, coarse, gross, lubricious, venereal;
      I fail to see how my question about the type of net used is “carnal.” My sermon has long since been delivered, and the type of net used was not an issue. I think that Jesus asking them to fish in an unorthodox manner only adds to the miracle.

Masika Jesca Christine · August 4, 2020 at 11:22 pm

Dave maybe you should reduce on the extreme analysis of Bible events otherwise you would have to explain how it was physically impossible for Jesus to die and resurrect, how a few loaves of bread could turn to a thousand more or how Lazarus could rise up from the dead.
God’s existence itself is unexplainable. So all I am saying is sometimes when you can’t understand a verse or miracle in the current reality, then look at from a spiritual view point. Maybe it is not achievable right now but it was achievable by then… That’s why they are called miracles ..they can’t be explained.

Pastor Jonathan · April 18, 2021 at 5:59 am

The left side (port) side was used to tie up at harbor. The right (starboard) side is the steering side that was equipped with a rudder mechanism. Jesus is saying let me steer your life. Let God direct your path. Dropping nets from the left side symbolizes following systems set up by man which is to be natural and carnal minded. A spiritual mind goes against natural thinking. God goes against natural living and gives us supernatural life.

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