Sunday, February 6, 2022: Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gospel – Luke 5:1-11
While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God, he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret. He saw two boats there alongside the lake; the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Simon said in reply, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.” When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come to help them. They came and filled both boats so that the boats were in danger of sinking. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him, and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners of Simon. Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him.
Implausible, impromptu, resistance, astonishment, recognition, conviction, conversion.
These words came to mind as I read, once again, this Gospel story which always seems implausible to me. Jesus makes the impromptu request of Peter, busy making a living, to row him out farther from shore. (Me? I’d be annoyed at being interrupted; probably thinking “who do you think you are?”) Not Peter. Peter makes the impromptu decision to do as Jesus asks. (Me? I’d want to discuss it.)
Next, Jesus tells Peter and his mates to row out father, drop their nets and fish. (To my relief, Peter responds as I would; he resists. In contemporary words, Peter says, “Look, buddy. We’ve been fishing all night; dropping and dragging our nets for miles and miles. We have nothing, zip, zero to show for it. Why would we try again, right now? We’re tired.”)
Then, as implausible as it seems to me, with no more discussion with Jesus, Peter and the fishermen do exactly what Jesus told them to do.
To their surprise, to their astonishment, they catch many fish, almost too many fish to bring to shore, an abundance of fish. (I have no idea what they said among themselves about the command, the fish, about this man Jesus. Me? I’d be saying, “What the heck just happened here? Who is this guy? Now what?”)
Now what? A most remarkable thing happens. The fishermen recognize something extraordinary has happened inside them. They recognize a heart to heart bond with Jesus. They recognize they trust Jesus.
Often, very often, trust leads us to conviction. The men, based on their newly formed but deep trust in Jesus, drop everything, at a moment’s notice, to join Jesus in the works of healing, preaching, loving the friend and the stranger. They embrace the upside down notion that a child, a sinner, an enemy has extraordinary value in God’s eyes.
All these impromptu, challenging and astonishing moments led Peter, James and John to conversion – to a change of heart and mind. (Me? As implausible as it seems, I know I’ve had my moments of astonishment and recognition, of conviction and conversion. I’m not surprised when times of resistance pop up. But, as implausible as it seems, I never doubt in the unconditional love God has for me, for all of us, for Earth. May that trust open me to impromptu moments of dropping everything to enjoy the boat ride, to enjoy the abundance Providence offers us for the taking.)
If you’d like, choose one of these words: impromptu, resistance, astonishment, recognition, conviction, conversion. Why that word?
Or take a boat ride; go fishing – even though doing either one of those seems improbable – give it a try. Astonish yourself by figuring out a way to sail and/or fish.