LITTLE FLOWERS OF SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI, Chapter 40
OF THE MIRACLE WHICH GOD PERFORMED WHEN ST ANTHONY BEING AT RIMINI, PREACHED TO THE FISHES OF THE SEA
There's so much here, I'll just single out one point and hope others will share what they've found. The first shall be last, and the last shall be first. We seem to insist on a pecking order here on earth that's not necessarily parallel to - maybe I shouldn't say pecking order - the way things are in heaven. There are always people seeking high positions, in politics, in the church, in any human organization. Jesus said that among the nations, their rulers lord it over them, but not so in the kingdom of God. There, whoever would be great must be the servant of all. We can impress the other members of whatever group we're in with our talents, our knowledge, our skills, but God sees our hearts and recognizes the humble servants among us. It's interesting that Jesus and many of the prophets came from humble backgrounds. There were high priests, kings, and wealthy and honored people who could have been given the messages that these men carried. But the words of those who were chosen to give these messages have been respected - by some - down through the ages.
Interesting among the recorded words of this sermon to fish is: "By a singular mystery you were the nourishment of the eternal King, Jesus Christ, before and after his resurrection." I'm always interested in allegorical interpretations to scripture, as long as we recognize that there are bounds. We can't with validity make just any passage mean just whatever point we ourselves want it to mean. It's a way that we can enter creatively into the messages and make them more personally applicable. I remember the fish fry towards the end of John's gospel. I don't recall mention of Jesus' eating fish before the resurrection, and I'm reluctant to look up such a reference now for fear something will time out and I'll lose my work. I think the author of this Flowers story is doing as the Hebrews author did in reference to Melchizidek, making a case based on observing what was and what wasn't mentioned in scripture. In this case, what nourishment scripture mentions that Jesus ate.
I wonder about Saint Anthony preaching to fish, though. Can a fish repent? Can a fish give evidence of a changed life? Can they even hear well enough to understand human speech? but maybe these are the very questions we need to ask about our own responsiveness to the sermons and messages that we hear and read. The messages are usually very simple, but still, sometimes we just don't get it.