5th Sunday of Ordinary Time (C)
“Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.”
In a reflection on Luke’s gospel account of the call of Simon-Peter, the theologian Jack Shea writes “The purpose of hearing the word is to be “caught” by it, to have it illumine the mind and inspire the will to such an extent that is changes the processes of thinking and acting”. He goes on to say that when fish are caught, they move from darkness to light, just like people who hear Jesus’ word do.
But when fish are caught, they die and become food for people. In a similar sense, when people are caught by the Word, and practice Jesus’ way, they die to themselves; they become more others-centered, and become “food” for others.
Simon could not catch fish. He tried all night without success. Obviously this was not always the case; he had a fishing business, and the text says James and John were his partners. [LK 5:7]. It’s safe to say they were able to support themselves as fishermen, perhaps even up to that day. But after they were “caught” by Jesus’ word, everything changed.
Jesus’ word caused Simon to go deep, to go out into deep water. Deep waters are risky, but the greatest variety of fish dwell in them. When he did what Jesus told him to do, Simon experienced an abundance that frightened him. He knew it was not through his expertise as a fisherman that he brought in the catch. It is not through our abilities that we are able to do what we do either.
Simon’s nets were filled with fish to the point of tearing and the catch was almost more than the boat could bear. He was overcome with a sense of unworthiness and inadequacy. But Jesus shut him down. Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians points to his prior sinfulness as a malformation, and yet he received the gospel, he experienced the risen Lord, and he was transformed. [1 Cor 15:1-11]. The prophet Isaiah, when he received his calling thought he was doomed, saying “I am a man of unclean lips living among a people of unclean lips.” But when he heard the Lord calling “Whom shall I send?” Isaiah cried out “Here I am! Send me!” [IS 6:1-8].
God chooses the least expected ones; no one is beyond the reach of the net; no one is too sinful to do God’s work. Listen, something greater is at work within you. Go deep. Be small. Always work to build up the church–the people of God. Do everything in Love; recognize what is of value and what should be tossed overboard. Be a good disciple. Never stop studying, learning and practicing what Jesus taught. Don’t be afraid of transformation; your likeness to Christ is coming forth. You can do so much more than you believe yourself to be capable of doing.
Today’s readings can be found here.
 John Shea. 2006. The Spiritual Wisdom of Gospels for Christian Preachers and Teachers: The Relentless Widow. Year C edition. Collegeville, Minn: Liturgical Press. Page 37.