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153 Fish

Fr. Scott Haynes

After a night of unsuccessful fishing by the disciples, Jesus Christ standing on the shore, calls out to them to cast the net on the right side of the boat, which they did. They then caught so many fish they could not drag the net into the boat. They drew the net of fish to the shore, counted them, and found a total of 153. The Bible could have instead rounded off the number to "about 150," or to simply have said "many fish," or "a multitude of fish," but it specifies the specific number of 153.


There have been theories as to what this number represents. St. Jerome says that at that time there were 153 known species of fish and that this represented to the apostles that Christ’s kingdom was for Jews and Gentiles, for all nations, races and tribes. If we return to St. Jerome's idea that the 153 fish signify that the Gospel of Christ is for all people, then this little episode indicated that the disciples were to become missionaries to the whole world. And that is, in fact, what they did. They still fished for people, but their catch now included every kind of person, and their catch was miraculously large.


Another interesting aspect related to this miraculous catch of 153 fish is found in that the four Gospels record precisely 153 individuals who were specifically blessed by Christ. These 153 people who received a direct blessing from Jesus Christ include the 70 disciples, 11 apostles, 10 lepers, 4 brethren of the Lord, the palsied man and bearers, the Centurion, Lazarus, Mary, Martha, the blind men, the demon-possessed man, Nicodemus, Peter’s mother-in-law, etc. Between the 4 Gospels the total of these blessed people does add up to 153. It’s unlikely that this number of 153 is a mere coincidence. It clearly demonstrates that the Lord numbers and watches over every individual who places his faith and trust in Him.


Dear friends in Christ, we who have been baptized are part of the catch of little fishes that have been caught in the net of God’s love and drawn up into the boat of St Peter, which is the Church. Let us today pray for those people who have not been caught up in the love of God and who still need the grace of Baptism. Let us be fishers of men, cast the nets deep and bring to our Lord sinners to be saved.


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