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Fishing in Whitby

Whitby has a large fishing industry. Its importance has diminished over the years, but you can still see plenty of fishing boats in the harbour, and the abundance of fish and chip shops testifies to the ready supply of local fresh fish. I was amazed at the range of the sea harvest – not just your cod, haddock, whiting and plaice, but sole, saithe, conger eel, lobster, mussel, squid to name a few.


Pope Francis in an address last year commented on Jesus’ instruction to Peter to try fishing again, even though he had had no success all night (Luke 5:1-11).

Jesus asked Peter (then called Simon) to do what the fisherman’s experience told him made no sense. Jesus told him to go out and try again. The result was a miraculous catch.

“It was a miraculous catch, a sign of the power of Jesus’ word: when we put ourselves generously at His service,” Pope Francis explained. “He does great things in us... His invitation to go out into the open sea of humanity of our time, to be witnesses of goodness and mercy, gives a new meaning to our existence, which often risks being flat. Sometimes we can be surprised and hesitant in the face of the Divine Master’s call to us, and we are tempted to reject it... (but) the greatest miracle Jesus wrought for Simon and the other disappointed and tired fishermen was not so much to fill the net with fish but to help them not to fall victims of disappointment and discouragement in face of failures...”


Those little fishing boats tied up in Whitby harbour appear no match for the mountainous high seas they will encounter. But somehow the fishermen have the courage to venture out. Whether or not they have faith in God, they have faith to get aboard, and that could be the start of a bigger faith journey.


We are grateful to them for that faith which brings us the harvest of the sea, and we are grateful to all who through their particular brand of faith make our lives better and provide models of inspiration.


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