By Sarah Christmyer
In my experience, there are two things certain about April: taxes and trout season.
I’m not sure which I dread more. One, because it falls to me to weed through the receipts and fill out the forms and figure out how to pay the taxman. And the other, because it’s the reason for the first. “Honey, I know our taxes are due … but those fish are calling my name!”
I groan … but I’m a sucker for those shining, pleading eyes. I knew I’d be a trout widow when I first said “yes.”
Sometimes I wish I could be like St. Matthew and set up my booth by the side of the stream like he must have had his custom house near the shore of the Sea of Galilee, possibly in the vicinity of Capernaum where the fishing was particularly good. All fish belonged to the king back then, and the tax collectors had to collect duty from those who caught them. In my case, the take would not be great (but oh, how satisfying, to collect!). Matthew, however, would do well. He had people like Peter and Andrew, James and John making their living off those fish. And the better they did, the better he would do. I hope in John 21 when they can hardly lift the catch, that Matthew wasn’t there to remind them of what they owed!
In any case — I was thinking of this, and smiling to myself, when I thought of the connection between men catching fish and a man collecting money for fish. One was a respectable occupation, the other despised. But Jesus called both to be fishers of men, to offer spiritual food without cost (see also Isaiah 55:1-3). I wonder how Matthew felt, handing out bread and fish for free and collecting those baskets of remnants instead of taxes!(Read the story in Matthew 14:13-21.)
There are things in my past I’m not proud of, things that don’t amount to much and things I’m proud of, that I did well. I imagine the same is true of you. God can use it all, when we say yes and follow. It’s pretty obvious that he can use our skills in a new direction, as he did with the fishermen. But he can just as well use those things that caused others pain, turn them inside-out and turn them to good. God can redeem our past. Thanks be to God!
About the author:
Sarah Christmyer is co-developer and founding editor of The Great Adventure Catholic Bible study program. The author of numerous Bible studies and several guided journals for Bible reading, she speaks at conferences and retreats on topics related to Scripture and the Catholic faith. She teaches at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Philadelphia. Follow her blog at ComeIntotheWord.com.