The disciples had gone back to fishing. Late one afternoon they got into a boat and went out but caught nothing. Early the next morning as they were returning, there was Jesus standing on the shore. He asked if they had caught anything and when they answered in the negative his response was, ”Cast your net to the right side and you’ll get a catch” (John 21:6). When they did, they caught so many fish that they couldn’t even hoist the net into the boat. It’s clear that when they did what Jesus told them to do (“cast your net on the RIGHT side”) they were able to do what they had been trying all night to do. We don’t need to ask how Jesus knew where the fish were – they were on the right side and that is where the disciples should cast their net.
Could there be a lesson here? I think so and would like to put on the preacher’s hat and, using the metaphor, discuss the advantages of being on the right side of the issues of life. I would call the homily something like, “The Secret of Successful Fishing.”
To achieve any important goal it is crucial to fish for the answer on the right side. For the believer, the right side is determined by scripture. For example, if you are fishing for inner peace or relief from anxiety the right side is wherever scripture says it is. Philippians 4:6-7 answers the question of how to escape anxiety and find peace by pointing out that “earnest and thankful prayer” (Phillips) is the side of life’s boat on which you will land the “peace of God that transcends human understanding.” While secular insights may be helpful – one writer correctly says that “inner peace can be reached only when we practice forgiveness” – I’d rather ask scripture to tell me where to find the complete answer.
In all the genuinely significant decisions of life there is a right side and a wrong side and – you guessed it – the best fish are on the right side. The God of the Judeo-Christian tradition is a righteous God, which means that he always does the right thing. He makes no mistakes. His decisions are always right. If we, his creation, want the deep pleasure of living the “right way” we should ask him. Our conscience, although not perfect, is a great place to listen for answers to life’s decisions. It’s an excellent guide for our passage through the difficult storms of life. Do what it has to say about what is right and what is wrong. It’s not perfect but it is infinitely better than trying to figure it out some other way. The disciples had the best day of fishing in their life because they followed instructions. If we want our net so full that we can hardly pull it up, then fish on the right side.