Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, 10th February

Luke 5:1–11

Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret,
and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats
there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were
washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon,
and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and
taught the crowds from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to
Simon, 'Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.' Simon
answered, 'Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet
if you say so, I will let down the nets.' When they had done this, they caught
so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So they signalled to
their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and
filled both boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he
fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, 'Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful
man!' For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that
they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were
partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, 'Do not be afraid; from now on
you will be catching people.' When they had brought their boats to shore, they
left everything and followed him.


The call of the first four apostles, Peter, Andrew, James
and John, is described in Matthew 4:18-22 and Mark 1:16-20. Luke adds extra
details Christ’s preaching to the crowds from Peter’s boat moored by the shore,
and of the miraculous catch of fish. Peter is especially mentioned as having
recognized the sanctity of Christ in this miracle, and it is Peter’s vocation
that Luke stresses. But the other three follow Christ also.

Having preached from Peter’s boat to the crowds sitting on
the lake shore, Jesus tells Peter to row out into the deep part of the lake to
fish. Peter, who lived by his fishing, knew that the night time was the most
suitable time for net fishing and that if the fish did not rise at night, there
was little chance they would rise in daylight. However, he showed amazing trust
in the power of Jesus. This might be that he was deeply touched by Jesus’
preaching to the crowds. Thus, he answered Jesus, “Yet if you say so, I will
let down the nets.” It was an indication that he would try the impossible
because he trusted in Jesus.

His confidence was rewarded. The net was filled to breaking
point. They called the other boat and the net held enough fish to fill both
boats until they were almost sinking.

Peter then recognized the sanctity of Jesus in this miracle
that Jesus must be a close friend of God. Peter also at this instance knew his
own unworthiness and sinfulness and felt she should not be near such a holy

Luke then turns to the two sons of Zebedee as partners of
Peter. The fourth man not mentioned by name is clearly Andrew, Peter’s brother.
The two boats, with two brothers in each, evidently worked as a team.

Jesus’ reply to Peter’s remark is simply. He now tells Peter
what his future vocation is to be, not catching fish but catching men for the
new kingdom of Christ. Although Luke stresses Peter’s call but evidently Jesus
had indicated to all four that he wished them to join him because immediately
they came ashore and left their boats and nets and followed Jesus.

It is very interesting to note that Jesus, who was about to
set up not only a world-wide institute but an everlasting one, chose these
simple fishermen and made them his assistants and his successors in the work
that he had taken in hand. There were many highly educated priests and scribes
in Jerusalem whom Jesus could have won over, men who could preach and instruct
so much more eloquently than Peter or Andrew. There were Roman officers in
Palestine who were highly educated and who would much more eagerly listened to
in the Gentile world. There were also Greek philosophers whose very name would
add prestige to the gospel message had they been apostles. Yet it was to none
of these that Jesus entrusted the arduous task of spreading he good news of the
gospel, it was to none of these that he gave the keys of his kingdom.

Jesus was not influenced in his judgment by external,
accidental qualifications. He judged the heart and the will. He knew the true
worth of men. Furthermore, the society that he was about to set up was not a
worldly business concern but a free transport system to heaven. The truths he
was committing to its keeping were not based on earthly wisdom which would
require eloquence and prestige to bolster them up. They were the eternal,
divine truths which needed not human propaganda, no help from mere men. Our
religion is not man-made. God is its author.

While thanking God today for our Christian religion, with its
clearly-drawn map of salvation, let us show our appreciation by doing our own
little part, as humble apostles, weak but willing helpers of Christ. Amen.