01252023 – Matthew 4. 12-23
You’d never know by looking at him.
He’s a good man, he really truly is.
But he can “RUN” with the best of them.
He always has. He’s a runner. Not a couch potato. Not a fighter. Running with his NETS, running with his BOYS, running with his FISH.
Put him together with James and John and his brother, Andrew, and you would never know he was “a married man.” He acts as if he hadn’t-a-care in the whole world. He comes and goes WHEN HE PLEASES. He “STAYS OUT” all night, fishes all day, and sleeps whenever he wants to.
Did I mention “that man can SNORE?” He snores SO LOUD – you think he would wake the dead. Literally, WAKE THE DEAD.
Or, he fishes ALL NIGHT and then sleeps ALL DAY, until it’s time to get up to go out fishing again. He pretty much DOES whatever it is “HE WANTS TO.”
That man is ALWAYS GONE. Never around when I need him. Never around when ANYONE ELSE needs him.
Does he HELP around the house? No. Never, not Simon.
Does he PROVIDE for us? Well yes, kind of.
We never go hungry. (That’s for sure!)
But come on now, HOW MUCH FISH can a person eat?
Fish in the MORNING. Fish at MID-DAY. Fish at NIGHT. Hungry? Have some fish. That’s all we ever see is FISH. Some days, I get so sick of fish. Even SEEING FISH, turns my stomach.
And there are only SO MANY WAYS you can prepare fish.
There’s hardly ever ANY MONEY for meal some nice bread would be so good, once in a while.
There is NOT MUCH – to this whole fishing business. It ain’t all that it’s cracked up to be! The government takes EVERYTHING. Tax collectors take THE REST. So we squander some and save a few shekels here and there.
But mostly, we pay, TAXES AND TOLLS, TAXES AND TOLLS.
I know he loves me. I know he cares.
He’s a good man. He CARES for others…
When my own father died, it was Simon who said, “have your mother MOVE IN with us!”
So kind. So sensitive. So caring. So thoughtful. I know he thinks of others…sometimes…
And then, he’s NEVER HERE. He never HELPS OUT. Oh, my mother NOTICES. Of course, she DOES.
But she keeps pretty quiet on the subject. You might say, she KNOWS HER PLACE.
Out “GALAVANTING” all over the place til God only knows when.
And when he does come home—–WHEWIE! The smell is AWFUL. Fish SMELL, SWEAT, and PERSPIRATION galore, and it is all BAKED right into his skin.
I guess things could be worse, I could be married to a no-good shepherd!
Old Simon DOESN’T ASK FOR MUCH. He’s a good man, kind of…
Here, by the Sea of Galilee, fishing has always been a fundamental part of THIS economy.
This is the region that was ruled by Herod Antipas. A son of Herod the Great.
This is the guy who just had John the Baptizer arrested.
Antipas is known as being “a client king” of the Romans. We call him our “puppet king.” He does what Rome asks.
They call this “an embedded economy.”
Most of the folks around here say it is because old Herod “is in bed with Rome.”
The two are “really one.” You scratch my back, I scratch yours, is the way they work.
“Embedded means” to imply that all questions of fish production, processing, trade, and regulation CANNOT BE SEPARATED from our politics, our family life, or from our village life.
It’s kind of like we are TRAPPED HERE and TRAPPED in the whole fishing industry.
ONCE a fisherman, ALWAYS a fisherman is what we say around here. There is NO getting out…or so they say…
You know these boys get TAXED on their fishing licenses, they get TAXED on access to certain areas, they get TAXED on all the raw materials for nets and boats, and they get TAXED on the fish they catch. Then when they are done, they get TAXED again for processing the fish. There are even TOLL TAXES on certain roads you go down…
Some days you just can’t win.
I’ve begged him to LEAVE ALL THIS BEHIND.
Just consider it. Think about it. Why can’t we move to Judea? Why can’t we find work in Jerusalem? There’s got to be PLENTY OF JOBS there.
I told him to just THINK about it. We don’t need to make any decision TODAY, this WEEK, or even this YEAR. But THINK ABOUT IT, Simon.
He said he would. But in the very next breath, he had to remind me, “There is MONEY TO BE MADE from fishing, but it is hard-earned. The work was HEAVY, DIFFICULT, and TIRING. It took TIME and PREPARATION. But we had a roof over our heads and food on the table.
Fishing is OUR LIVELIHOOD and it’s something HE will probably NEVER LEAVE.
He was BORN into a fishing family and he will more than likely DIE as a fisherman. It is WHAT he does. It is WHO he is.
I think he would SOONER LEAVE ME, than his life of fishing. It is HIS PASSION.