The fishers’ net

The fishers’ net

First Draught of Fishes.

(The Gospel History, Section 33)

Now it came to pass, while the multitude pressed upon him and heard the word of God, that he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret; and he saw two boats standing by the lake: but the fishermen had gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And he entered into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the multitudes out of the boat. And when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Put out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answered and said, Master, we toiled all night, and took nothing: but at thy word I will let down the nets. And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes; and their nets were breaking; and they beckoned unto their partners in the other boat, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But Simon Peter, when he saw it, fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was amazed, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken; and so were also James and John, sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And when they had brought their boats to land, they left all, and followed him.

The fishers’ net

(The Saviour of the World, Vol II Book I Poem X)

Hanfstaengl by Fed. Baroccio

Wearied with labours up and down the land,
The Saviour walks again by that loved lake,
Gennesareth the fair, whose mirror holds
The loveliness of earth, the hues of heaven:
And as He stood, the eager multitude,
An-hungered, holily, for Word of God,
Pressed close upon Him, that no crumb be lost
Of that soul’s manna dropping as he went:
And He, aware as ever of men’s needs,
How each man fain would hear, and pressed Him so
That, urged into deep water, some might drown,—
He looked for simple way, and saw two boats
Shored high and dry—the fishers had gone out
To wash their nets, the very four we know,
Not yet in constant waiting on their Lord,
But biding His commands from day to day.—
He entered Peter’s boat, bade him put out
A little from the land that all might see,
Hear each word uttered in that resonant air.
Then He sat down and taught the multitudes.
His teaching done,—and every soul enmeshed
In that fine web of thought He cast abroad,
Whence, whoso would escape, by violence
Must tear him from the strong enveloping truth,—
He turned to teach His fisher’s craft to them
With Him in the boat. “Put out,” He said, “to sea,
“And cast your nets for fish.” Simon replied,
(Sure he knew fisher’s craft if naught beside!)
“Master, through all the night we toiled, nor took
“Aught for our labour;” caught he here a glance
Reproving his presumption—did he know
In truth, so very much of fishers’ lore?
Meek, he goes on, “but at Thy word, my Lord,
“I will let down the nets.” They did, and lo,
Great multitude of fishes they enclose,
With straining muscles, hold a breaking net,
And beckon to their partners in the boat
That lay alongside; these hasten to give help
And both the boats are filled to sinking point,
From that same deep, experience reckoned void!
But not their fishing was their Lord’s concern;
Sign of the Kingdom gave he, parable;
Had they the grace to read? Rich haul forgot,
That ardent Peter fell at Jesus’ knees,
And prayed Him, “Go, depart from me, O Lord,
For I, a sinful man, and Who art Thou,
But Very God in our midst, of cleaner eyes
Than to behold our sin!” Amazed was he,
The fishers, too, and James and John, his friends,
At draught of fishes taken at His word!
Full ready, Simon, to receive that word
Wrapped up in parable of breaking net,
Scarce strong to hold the multitude of fish
Driven to its meshes by one word from Him
Who knows the depths of seas, the deeps of hearts,
And sees the barren regions teem with life!
“Fear not,” He said to Simon, “henceforth thou
Shalt catch, not fish, but men. The net I give,
Of mesh so delicate that scarce to touch
Or sight ’tis evident, so closely wove
That never fish so small it shall escape,
So strong, leviathan in vain would break,—
That net of My Church, behold thou shalt cast forth,
And gather to Me multitudes of men!”
In awe, they brought the boats to land, nor stayed
To count the fishes, gain a goodly price—
No price in all the world for them but that
“Well done” of His, should glorify all work!—
They brought their boats to land, left all behind,
(What spoil for Zebedee and the hired fishers!)
And followed wheresoever He should lead.

St. Luke v. 1-11