From: T.M. Schoewe
Among my earliest recollections was shouting to my dad “I got one!” It was a little brown trout. What a joy! And the great excitement of taking that fish off of the hook, wow! Fish are fascinating! Their strange eyes and their silence (except for sheepshead) surprise you. Their blank eyes stare at you! These strange creatures are slippery, slippery creatures that puzzle us, for they are from another world. It is a submarine world, a world that is hidden and dark and deep and quite different from our world, where we live in the medium of air. Fish in all their shapes and sizes come to us like a visitor from another existence; they are ambassadors of a sort from another world. Maybe this is why we like to tell fish stories.
Well we could stop here and tell a few. Like catching three sailfish one rainy afternoon off the coast of Colombia, S.A. Or as a family of seven filling a freezer with rainbow trout from a mountain stream north of Sheridan, Wyoming. Or getting plenty of walleye just off the old wingdams downriver from the Bass Camp. Sorry but these stories are true. Like going through the “gieselhorse” [Kiesel Horse] for big crappies! Now you may have some fish stories of your own or heard some from others. And some you know are pretty slippery, just like fish.
Another thing you are probably aware of is that the Bible speaks of fish quite frequently. Fish permeate the Christian story. In fact fish go back to the beginning, to the 4th day or age of creation. And we cannot help but think of Noah and the flood. He took all creatures into the Ark but fish! There was no aquarium in the ark! Fish had to fend for themselves. In other words, there was no judgment of God upon them and they not only survived the flood but thrived.
So even from the early chapters of the Bible fish became a symbol or sign of salvation, of being able to bypass judgment untouched. And then we come to the great tale of Jonah. A fish (probably a whale shark) scooped up the runaway Jonah who was thrown into the Mediterranean, and carries him to safety. Not only did fish survive judgment during the flood, but now we see it is a special fish that bears another along to his salvation on the 3rd day! And in the Gospels Jesus refers to the story of drowning Jonah and says He is a bearer of the sign of Jonah. And when Jesus fed the multitude it was not only with bread but with fish! Over half of His disciples were fishermen. He says of Himself and His followers that they are fishers of men, that is, of people.
There is too much more about fish in the scriptures to mention here but fish permeate the pages of the Bible. Read the last chapter of John’s gospel. And these fish splash out of the pages of scripture and leap into the early church, which made the fish a symbol of baptism indicating how we will survive the waters of judgment. Early on the Christians noted the Greek word “ICHTHUS” used in everyday business language. For them it stood for Jesus Christ, God’s Son, our Savior. And it was common practice for early Christians during times of extreme persecution to be wary of others and draw a picture of a fish in the sand with their toes as a way of identifying one another.
All of the fish stories might point to the Lord Jesus, the Big Fish who visited us from another world and rose on the 3rd day! So too when we take part in the “giving of thanks,” the “Eucharist,” we indeed receive His body but at the same time are swallowed up into Him who, like Jonah’s fish, carries us through all the wild waves of this world and throws us out on His distant shores of eternity. That will be the greatest joy; to have been caught by the Biggest Fisherman!
Dear reader: you have just read about a real big fish story! It is the greatest story ever told and absolutely true! Sine cera!