Fish have always been a sign of Evangelization, so the same holds true for the New Evangelization — but why?
I’ve heard many reasons for this; recently came across one that really moved me. I’ll save that one for last. For now, I will say that I learned it from this guy:
More on that later. First I want to comment on his fish, and the radical phenomenon that this fish — the IXTUS fish — has aroused.
IXTUS: Greek for fish and Greek acronym for Iesus Xristos Theou Uios [kai] Sotor: Jesus Christ, Son of God and Savior (Yes I am aware that the X — Greek letter Chi — is normally transliterated as Ch rather than X, but you get the point).
Legend (or tradition) has it that the first Christians used to carry around fish as a sign that they were Christian. I believe we’ve discontinued this tradition, because of the way fish smell. Now we decorate our cars with fish ornaments, like this:
Some people really get into it and do things like this:
These outward signs of faith are designed not only to bear witness of one’s personal belief and devotion; they are also designed to raise questions in other people’s minds. That’s when people start getting creative, and come up with things like the following:
And so on…
Of course, anyone who’s ever driven on the interstate or parked at the local grocery store is familiar with these things too:
And such like fooleries. Beyond all the mimicry, there’s a deeper truth that these sign bearers tend to overlook, perhaps.
One reason why the fish is a sign of Evangelization is that Jesus’s first disciples were fishermen. He called them to drop their nets, follow him, leave their old lives behind, and become “fishermen of men,” i.e., apostles, full-time evangelizers. That’s one reason why the fish is a sign of the New Evangelization.
The other day, I discovered something that blew me away, partially, because I should have already realized this, partially, because it’s very deep. It stupefied me when I heard it.
The resurrected Jesus ate fish! That’s right, Jesus ate fish in his glorified body. Fish is now a sign of the resurrection. I learned this from this sight: This New Evangelization Podcast.
The lesson, for me at least, we don’t just abstain from eating meat on Friday during Lent. We continue our abstinence year round on Friday (with some exceptions, such as the Christmas and Easter Octaves), not because it’s a dietary restriction that makes us impure otherwise. That was never the reason for abstaining from meat. Aside from being a small form of sacrifice, abstinence from meat should be seen as a remembrance of Christ’s passion.
And, now, I’ve just learned that when I choose to eat fish on Friday, I am also remembering the Resurrection — the Risen Jesus ate fish!
Now for something completely different (sort of). Yesterday, as I was mulling things over, I came across this sign during a trip to the city (NYC):
I convinced my friends that we had to go there for lunch, which we did. Here’s my review: If you are ever in Manhattan at Amsterdam and W125th Street, EAT AT JESUS’ TACO! You’ll be glad you did. They don’t have fish tacos, unfortunately, but they do have shrimp tacos, which one of my friends said was well worth ordering (I had a steak burrito instead, and it sure beat Taco Bell). The owner, goes by the name of Jesús, but he’s actually a Chinaman named Hong. Go figure. The food, however, is fabulous, so…
Sorry for the gratuitous ad. There was some connection deep in my imagination between what I was saying about fish and Jesus’ Taco, but I could not find a way to articulate that without going too far off on a tangent.
I guess the take-away would be this. If you are looking for a good restaurant on a Friday, there are plenty of reasons to make it a seafood restaurant or to order an anchovy pizza. It’s just a simple yet profound way to exercise your faith as you start the weekend.
so we don’t have to give up meat on Friday outside of lent?
It is not mandatory, whereas abstinence from meat on Fridays during Lent is. However, the Church does suggest it strongly. One should at least offer some sacrifice on Friday, in the spirit of penance and reparation, as a way of uniting oneself to the Lord’s suffering on the cross. Abstinence from meat on Friday is a good Catholic practice with a longstanding tradition.
This may be a silly question, but why Fridays?
Because of Good Friday. Our Lord offered himself as a sacrifice in atonement for our sins and suffered death on a Friday. So, in remembrance and reparation, we abstain from “blood-meat” on Fridays. It’s a voluntary sacrifice as Christ’s sacrifice was an act of free will.