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What is the most unenjoyable job you’ve ever done? I once took a job in a warehouse that involved putting sale price stickers on labels for a well known high street clothes brand. It started off alright, it was pretty easy and I met some nice people, but after a couple of days the long hours and repetitive nature of it became really difficult. There are much more difficult and unfulfilling jobs than that. We all probably have in mind jobs we wouldn’t want to do. There are jobs that we might even be conditioned to look down upon. It seems beneath us.
In this week’s BCP reading, Jesus goes fishing with the disciples and after a big catch, tells them they will be ‘fishers of people’. Being a fisher man during Jesus’ time was looked down upon, even though it was depended on for providing food.
“The most shameful occupations are those which cater to our sensual pleasures,” wrote the Roman poet Cicero pejoratively, “fish-sellers, butchers, cooks, poultry-raisers and fishermen”. This indicates the marginal existence of the fishermen and it’s amazing that these people were first converts to Jesus’ message about an alternative social vision! Can you imagine those who do jobs that are looked down on today being the first converts to God’s salvation?
These restless peasant fishermen had little to lose and everything to gain by overturning the status quo. Being ‘fishers of men’ is more than being people used to storehouse souls for heaven, but a radical upturning of the normal way of doing things in society and changing the way we look at those who were are conditioned to look down on. Jesus summoned these marginalised workers to join him in, to use modern parlance, “catching some Big Fish” and restoring God’s justice for the poor. It’s a powerful reminder for us to see the worth and potential in all whom we come across in our day to day lives. And also to understand that those who are considered marginal are actually those who God uses powerfully in converting us to the new vision or the Kingdom of God, where justice, peace and love reign.
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