Lk 5: 1 – 11
Before we start our reflection on today’s Gospel we need to learn a little about the fishermen of Galilee. We are often told that they were extremely poor. It appears that this may not be correct. We learn from archaeology that the fishing industry, at the time of Jesus, was big business. Peter’s business was large enough for him to have entered into a partnership. Elsewhere in the Gospels we learn that he employed additional staff.
(Mk 1: 20)
Be with us, Lord Jesus. Be our companion on our way. In your mercy inflame our hearts and raise our hope, so that, in union with one another, we may recognise you in the Scriptures and in the breaking of Bread.
Here are some titles for our reading.
Followers of Christ
Christ’s relationship with us and our relationship with him.
As you read this text keep these in mind. Perhaps after you have read it a number of times you may chose which you like most.
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By now I am sure you are aware that this reading can be divided into three parts. We will deal with each part on its own.
1Jesus was standing one day by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the crowd pressing round him listening to the word of God, 2when he caught sight of two boats close to the bank. The fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 3He got into one of the boats – it was Simon’s – and he asked him to put out a little from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.
(We will be guided in our reflection by the phrases in colour.)
Our relationship with the Word.
We are immediately called to a deeper understanding of the Word. The enthusiasm of the crowd and their close attention to what Jesus was teaching makes us review how we relate to Scripture. Do we look forward to the time we devote to reflecting on Scripture or is it something that is left to the few minutes on Sunday. This incident took place on a work day. The fisherman were hard at work ‘washing their nets’. Clearly we are being called to integrate reflection on the Word into our daily spirituality. Life and the Word of God go together. ‘He sat down and taught.’ Are you aware of Jesus touching your life as you spend time pondering the opening verses of this reading?
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There are many ways to approach a Gospel reading, each having its own value. I am going to ask you to open yourselves to reading part two in a different way.
Using your imagination visualise Luke sitting in a quiet spot in the shade of a tree. He looks back over the years and marvels at the phenomenal growth in the number of Jesus followers. The impact of Jesus’ teachings on the lives of his community, as conveyed by all those new ministers of the Word, is nothing short of amazing. In fact he is ‘completely overcome.’ Luke has a problem. How will he capture this phenomenal success in his gospel? At last he gets inspiration, he similes and returns to his writing.
Perhaps, Luke uses this story to project backwards into the life of Jesus, the phenomenal growth of the Christian Community that he was experiencing.
4When he had finished speaking he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and pay out your nets for a catch.” 5“Master” Simon replied, “we have worked hard all night long and caught nothing, but if you say so, I will pay out the nets.” 6And when they had done this they netted such a large number of fish that their nets began to tear, 7so they signalled to their companions in the other boats to come and help them; when they came, they filled the two boats to sinking point.
Acts 2: 14 – 41, records Peter’s first speech. The closing verse reads, “Those who accepted his message were baptised, and about three thousand persons were added that day.” I am sure you can see the parallel with our reading.
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8When Simon Peter saw this he fell at the knees of Jesus saying, “Leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man.” 9For he and all his companions were completely overcome by the catch they had made; 10so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were Simon’s partners. But Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on it is men you will catch.” 11Then, bringing their boats back to land, they left everything and followed him.
How do we react:
when faced with the power of the Word in our lives;
when challenged to accept goodness;
when called to accept the consequences of goodness.
Probably, like Peter, our instinct is to run. No wonder Jesus says, “Do not be afraid; from now on it is men you will catch.” ‘Catch’ can be better understood as drawing out alive, giving the fullness of life.
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You will have noticed that throughout the reading we hear about ‘Simon’. Just once he is called Simon Peter. Perhaps this reflects how we see ourselves contrasted with how Jesus sees us.
‘Simon’ – my self-image – looking backwards – focusing on past mistakes – avoiding contact with Goodness.
‘Peter’ – Jesus’ view of me – looks to the future – sees the potential in me – focuses on the goodness in me and encourages my growing relationship with him.