When I was in junior high, I visited my uncle in Utah. He took my brother and me fishing, but we were so bad that he changed the plan. We left the river and went to a fish hatchery instead. I don’t remember much about that day, but I do recall that as soon as I dropped the bait and line (is that what it’s called?) into the water, I’d get a bite. We must have caught 20 fish each that day.
I suppose my uncle thought he was teaching me how to fish so I’d eat for a lifetime. Maybe Peter, ever the fisherman, thought as much when he healed the man in today’s passage.
In the verses just preceding this story, we read that the disciples pooled all their money and resources together for their fledgling faith community. It’s likely that Peter and John really didn’t have any money when they saw the man because they’d shared everything with those in need.
In fact, this man was probably one of those people they’d helped before. Chapter 2 says they went “day by day” to the temple, and chapter 3 says this man was there “daily.” Perhaps Peter decided that instead of giving this man alms every day, he’d teach him “how to fish,” or how to walk, as it were.
Today, we might expand this saying to speak about equity, recognizing the unjust systems that keep some people in need from having “fishing poles” or access to a “river” to begin with. Perhaps the miracle is that they didn’t just give him alms like everyone else, or hand out food at the pantry, or take a shift at the shelter, but instead they went straight to the root of the problem. The man received a miraculous healing; today, “how to fish” might be affordable housing, a living wage, or affordable childcare.
What steps can you take to learn more about injustices in your community?
May justice flow down like a river, and right living like an ever-flowing stream. Amen.