I came across this piece of writing this week by John Tauler, a German Dominican born at the beginning of the 14th century. It captures what the mission of ‘the Hook of Faith’ is all about – pointing out ways in which God is luring us lovingly to faith in him.
‘God has thrown into the whole universe and over all creatures beneath our feet, before our eyes and before our soul, his fish-hook, his bait, his net to draw us to him by means of all the things of this world’ - John Tauler, Sermon II for Holy Thursday.
With these words, Tauler reminds us that we are not the angler hoping to catch God; it’s God who is the angler patiently waiting to lure us with the bait of love and beauty.
His words echo earlier teach by St Jerome who said: ‘You who have now put on Christ and follow our guidance are like little fish on the hook. You are being pulled up out of the deep waters of this world by the Word of God’.
So what are these moments when God ‘hooks us’ in order to bring us to himself? Like Jerome points out, it could be moments of prayer with the Scriptures, at Mass or alone in a quiet Church. It could be moments when we stare into the night sky and contemplate with awe and wonder the beauty of God’s handiwork. It could be when we hear a piece of beautiful music. But they can also be moments of trial, darkness and crisis. God can hook us precisely in those areas that they considered were most dark, mysterious and even shameful.
We think here of the words of the Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh who asked in his poem ‘From Failure up’: ‘O God can a man find you when he lies with his face downwards and his nose in the rubble that was his achievements? Is the music playing behind the door of despair? O God give us purpose’.
Slowly, gently but surely. God is alluring us to himself with the hooks he has placed around us and within us. Be hooked by faith in him.