5th Sunday in Ordinary Time Gospel Lectio Divina

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time Gospel Lectio Divina

By David Kilby

 

READ

Lk 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 men.” When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him.


MEDITATE

While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus

So many times we hear about the crowds surrounding Jesus. His great deeds on earth and his wise teachings were seen and heard by countless people. The multitude of people who heard him speak would rival that of many popular public speakers today. As it was then and as it is now, common people want the truth and whoever speaks it will attract a crowd.

“Put out into deep water …”

Not the shallow streams where we can just go with the flow of the culture. The deep, that’s where Jesus wants us to go, to uncharted waters. Even if we think it’s too risky, or even if we think there’s no point, he is telling us to cast into the deep and have hope. Our culture is lost. Our leaders have abandoned God. In many ways, we as a people have drifted into deep waters. We need Christ to save us. We need disciples of Christ who are willing to face the danger of going out to rescue us. If we count ourselves among those Christians, we ought to heed Christ’s words, be not afraid, and have faith that our risk of reaching out will bring back a great catch of saved souls. Jesus is not calling us from danger into safety. He is calling us out of complacency and into action.

“Master …”

Simon (who is later renamed “Peter”) already considers Jesus to be a master. To be a teacher of the Word of God in Jewish society was to be above fishermen in societal status. We may think Jesus’ notoriety began around the time he called the disciples, but he was already well-known by the time he called the apostles. We could assume that Simon Peter confided in Jesus after hearing him speak just the one time mentioned in this Gospel passage, but that would be unlikely. He probably heard Jesus speak elsewhere and knew of Jesus’ reputation as a great teacher. This adds an important perspective to Simon Peter’s calling, because it alludes to the likelihood that he knew what he’d be getting into if he did follow Jesus.

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.

Immediately upon listening to Jesus, the fishermen put themselves in danger. It may have been hard to accept the disappointment of catching nothing, but getting a big catch after following Jesus’ direction came with its own difficulty. Oftentimes, we associate difficulty with failure, and ease with success. But here, the fishermen’s success was met with great difficulty. This is something we ought to keep in mind when we evangelize. Once we bring in new believers, the work has just begun. If we just sit back and rest on our laurels, our boat will topple over and we’ll lose everything. Evangelization is just in the beginning stages of the Christian walk. After we evangelize, we have to catechize–or teach the faith. Even then our job is not done because a believer can know the faith inside and out while still not knowing how to implement it into their lives. That’s why the next step is discipleship. Every analogy has its limitations, but if we are to follow through with the one Jesus is using here then the goal is to make the “men” the disciples “catch” into disciples as well. 

“Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”

Knowing the challenge that would come with discipleship, Simon Peter wished Jesus had not chosen him. The name of the popular internet series Chosen could be misleading to those who don’t know much about the show. They may think Jesus is the “chosen” one, since many other stories follow the path of a main character who is believed to be the “chosen one”. Star Wars and Harry Potter come to mind. But Jesus is not a Skywalker or a wizard, and his story is not fantasy. He is the Son of God, and he is choosing his disciples. They are the chosen ones, even if some of them wish they were not. Some of the prophets had the same reaction after being called by God. Jonah and Jeremiah come to mind. They all knew what following a man like Jesus would be like. They knew it might bring them ridicule, persecution, great danger and even death. 

Here, in that realization–and in the fear that comes with it–Simon Peter looks for a cop out. He uses his sinfulness as an excuse to avoid the danger that would come with being a disciple of Christ. How often do I do this? I say, “There is no way God will accept me now, after all I’ve done.” Or, “If I stepped into a church it would probably burn down.” I’ve honestly thought that the evil I’ve done can rival God’s goodness. You’ve probably heard several times that no sin is greater than God’s mercy. This is true, but it may be missing the point in this case. At this point, when Christ is calling Peter, it’s not about mercy as much as it is about building God’s kingdom on earth. Jesus doesn’t care how sinful Peter has been. He is focused on the mission at hand. In this moment, Jesus is expecting Peter to show true humility, not the false humility he is showing by saying, “Depart from me, I am a sinful man.” Jesus is saying, ‘Put aside your shame and come follow me.”

“Do not be afraid”

They had just experienced a supernatural event and almost drowned in their boat. Jesus’ response to their reaction is “Do not be afraid.” I love it. I would have been petrified too. I’d be like “Whaaat just happened!?” Jesus, all calm and collected, says, “Do not be afraid.” This is what we need more than anything when the trials of life assail us. We need someone who can tell us everything will be alright if we confide in him. Jesus is that person. When life is filled with uncertainty and bewilderment, may we always turn to him and have faith in him.

 

PRAY

 Jesus,

So often I feel like I am in that boat, in danger of sinking and overwhelmed by the tasks you have put on my lap. For a long time I thought the thing I lacked was the energy to take on those tasks. It has taken me time to notice that what I lacked was courage, not energy. I will always think I don’t have the energy to do what you call me to do if I keep cowering away from the task whenever I am tired. But it takes courage to keep working even when I am tired. Also, it takes humility to accept the tasks and accept help with them when I need it. Thank you for showing me this. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
 

LISTEN

Sometimes I don’t want to listen. Sometimes I’m like Peter and think I know better. I hear God telling me to do something and I say, “But I’ve tried that already.” God is not telling us to predict the results of what he tells us to do. He just tells us to do it and to have faith, even when we doubt. Simon Peter did one thing right in this Gospel passage. He listened to and obeyed Jesus even though he doubted that it would make a difference. Let’s pray for the faith to do the same.



Kilby is a freelancer writer from New Jersey and managing editor of Catholic World Report

 

 Glory to the Father The Son and The Holy Spirit