My three grade school children left the house this morning sporting their Mardi Gras beads brought to them from my daughter who attends Spring Hill College in Mobile, AL. She went to a parade last weekend and collected the beads for her siblings because she knows that every year we scurry around on Fat Tuesday morning looking for beads from past years. I left them with the idea of thinking about what they were going to do for the next Forty Days which made me think about the tune "These Forty Days" which brought to mind this meditation I wrote about fish.
“Jesus said to them, ‘Come after me; I will make you fishers of me.” Mark 1:17
Faith begins in our families. As a family of faith, we are invited by Jesus to follow Him and to be examples to those we meet along our way. We pass along the faith and bring others to Christ by our prayer and our example and our support. He asks us to come after Him so He can use our physical selves to teach His truth.
My earliest memory of fish as a Catholic was the fish on Friday ritual during these forty days of Lent oh Lord with Thee we fast and pray. As time passed, memory of fish became three chances at the state fair to throw ping pong balls into tiny bowls filled with colored water and goldfish. If a ball dropped in a bowl, we won a gold fish in a plastic bag. We learned early in our state fair years not to play the game until it was almost time to leave so we wouldn’t have to carry the bagged fish on all the rides. My uncles Joe and Billy were big fishermen, having fish fries once a year for all our families and entertaining us kids with wild tales of hunting and fishing. Seemed it was never as much about the big catch as it was about the time spent with one another and their children.
Fish for my parents was strictly about being fishers of men. They were and are truly into the whole discipleship thing and bringing others, especially their own family, to Christ. By no means were they blatant or obnoxious about their fishing, as some fishermen can be, but they were persistent and they whole-heartedly believed that it all began at home. They knew that if they could get through to us at young ages then we could go out and do the same. Heck, all I wanted was to win a gold fish at the fair but they wanted me to constantly focus on bigger goals. Together, we fished.
As we begin this Lenten Season, may we all cast our nets into the deep and do a little fishing, focusing on something bigger. Happy Mardis Gras!