"Put out into deep water and lower your nets"
If you have ever interviewed for a job, filled out an application for any position, taken a battery of psychological tests, or had to be evaluated for your work performance then we know how most employers are cautious as to who they hire. This makes good sense and is common in our present day work world. HR departments exist in order to protect both employers and those they hire.
In today’s Gospel reading, we see Jesus’ invitation to his first among the twelve to follow him. It strikes me that this call is at the basis of our Christian vocation. We are not employed by God or here to negotiate a fair salary, or looking to take a battery of psychological tests, or save for our retirement, nor even to collect social security checks.
While all that has its place in this life, Jesus’ invitation to Peter, with the miraculous abundance of fish caught, symbolize the future plenty of those who would become followers of the Christian Way.
Yet more personally for each of us, this invitation by Jesus is above and beyond our work. We integrate our Christian lifestyle, our vocation, into all that we do. It forms our thoughts and actions. Whether married, single, religious or ordained, we all have been invited by Christ to follow him. Our Lord gives no specific job description or any clear inkling as to what the future will hold. That will be revealed gradually over time. But he calls each of us, as St. Paul reminds us, to “walk by faith and not by sight.”(2 Cor 5: 7).
It is interesting I think that though we call Jesus’ followers his disciples, it was far more customary for a teacher of the time to attract disciples not by seeking them out. It was more typical that others would seek out the learned teacher and ask to become his pupils (disciples). The reverse is true in the case of Jesus – he calls us. He proposes to us a new way of life; a new journey that will bring us ultimately to union with God. He is on a quest to find us – to invite us.
So, take some time to review in quiet prayer if you can the Gospel passage below. It is rich in scenery. Imagine yourself along that shore of the Sea of Galilee and you witness Simon and the others in their encounter with Jesus. What is their reaction to the enormous catch of fish? What is yours? What do you hear? What are the expressions on their faces? How willing would you be to follow Jesus without hesitation?
What do you see, hear, feel, touch, and taste in this scene?
Come Holy Spirit, breath of God, and fill our hearts with your call:
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.