5th Ordinary Sunday: “You will be catching people for God.”

February 6, 2022

We grow up in a certain life setting, determined by place, by others, by culture and by language, by our parents’ circumstances.

One reality is for sure, that we can feel love; its lack diminishes us; its presence enables us to grow and to be secure and to dream our future.

In the culture of Jesus’ day, a [man] followed in the footsteps of their father and a [woman in the footsteps of her mother] to bear children and to care for them.

Jesus came from a small town of about 150 people, most of them related to each other.  How did he come to know these fishermen?  Did he know Simon that well to take over his boat?

Jesus would not know anything about fishing or where to find a good catch.  He could make a chair or a table if asked.  Maybe the large school of fish was a coincidence.

Simon, James, and John were astonished, felt very lucky, had probably never caught anything like it before.  Simon, James and John do not understand what is going on.

All of a sudden, their new found friend tells them not to be afraid and from now on, they will be catching men.  If they thought the two boat loads of fish was astonishing, this last thing Jesus says is scary… to catch men?

How do we catch people – doing something wrong or embarrassing, rescuing them before a misstep or a fall, preventing a mistake or misstep?

What exactly is Jesus’ invitation today?  He has left the small-minded town of Nazareth.  Thirty miles away, we find him in the salt air and wide-open spaces of the Lake of Galilee.

Jesus has a fresh air approach to life.

You probably have never thought of this before but where did Jesus get or receive the Word of God that people were listening to today?  He was sitting in a small fishing boat about 30 feet from the shore, before a small amphitheater hillside.  His voice carried up the hillside.

His Word did not come from a book or a scroll.  He was telling them about his own relationship with God.  This was not a catechism lesson, because no such thing existed.  

Peter goes fishing and his fishing becomes a lesson on “abundance,” seeing the plenty in life, encountering the boundless energy of God in life.  We can see the wind rustling through Jesus’ hair.  He did not talk about God’s boundless love in a synagogue or a church.  He stood in nature, at the seashore, walking through the grain fields, stopping in little towns.  He walked and he talked.  He talked about the simple and profound things of life – from his heart.

Today, he tells us to appreciate that the glass of life is more than half-full, to appreciate how blessed we are – to see the boat of life overflowing with fish.

If we take the time to appreciate where God is in our lives, maybe we can even see God like Isaiah did.  Isaiah thought that he was doomed. “Your wickedness is removed, your sin purged,” God said to Isaiah.  Instead of fighting God, Isaiah said, “I will go into life for you.”  The closer Peter got to Jesus, Peter realized how selfish and small-hearted he had been, but Jesus would not let him go.  Jesus makes the outlandish promise that Peter will one day have a great, positive effect on others – “You will be catching people for God.”

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