Fishing for Men
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint 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 they 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.
The reach of social media is almost ubiquitous. It is in our pockets in our phones, in our workplace in our desktops, and everywhere electromagnetic radiation can reach. Where radio and light can touch, there can be the internet. It is not surprising then that in a world literally immersed in the flow and ebb of information, focus is so much harder today. The senses are always engaged, the intellect in danger of information overload.
Preaching the Gospel today doesn’t mean competing head on with the noise of the world. Jesus said to go into deep water. That means going to peripheries, to places not many would go, places both physical, spiritual, emotional and existential. While there are physical places of poverty and misery, there are more places, in hearts and homes, where poverty takes on other forms. These places don’t know much noise, only silence, loneliness, and isolation. There are people around us waiting for us to reach out to them.
Then Jesus said to lower the nets. Catching men takes faith. We won’t know how many we’ll snag, how many will care. All the same just lower the nets. It is the Spirit who catches men by touching hearts. He needs us to provide the occasion and that takes faith.
Faith begets faith, life begets life. That is the law of the Kingdom of God. Faith no matter how little if put in God’s hands will yield much, to quantities that will amaze us and sink us to our knees in humility like Peter. Jesus tells us not to be afraid. The work of catching men, of New Evangelization, is Jesus’ work. We are the fishermen and the fish, Jesus is the net that catches men and fishermen.