Wellspring of the Gospel


Year C: 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Gospel: Luke 5: 1-11

As we heard a few weeks ago, Luke came to know Jesus through those who had known him during his earthly ministry. Among those were the people we meet in todayís Gospel - Simon Peter, James and John.

It is interesting that Luke tells us that Jesus was standing on the shore and surrounded by crowds of people - and yet his eye falls on two fishing boats and their crew who were cleaning the nets and making ready for the next trip.


We cannot know what Jesus saw in them. The story suggests that they were fully occupied with their task and were not even listening to his teaching - and yet, in them, Jesus saw something that he could work with.


As so often in the Gospels, Jesus takes people where they are - and then offers new insight which moves them beyond that. He tells the fishermen to act against their experience and go out and try to bring in a catch - even having failed to catch anything all night. What the fishermen saw in Jesus we do not know but instead of dismissing him as an interfering busy-body, they follow his instructions and bring in a massive catch.


Simon Peter recognises something in Jesus that brings him to his knees. It was, obviously, partly the size of the catch - but also a quality in Jesus that both attracted and repelled him. He saw the power of this man - but was afraid of him too... This was to be a common reaction in those Jesus called to follow him. There was the attraction to the goodness and Spirit-filled man - but also an awareness of unworthiness and the potential cost of becoming his disciple.


For the community to whom Luke was writing, this attraction and fear would have gone hand in hand as they followed a man from a different culture - and began the development of a new religion.


They would have needed Jesusí words of reassurance - do not be afraid. They would also have needed the example of Simon Peter and his companions... they were experienced fishermen who had caught nothing until Jesus stepped in. people would have been in awe of those who had known Jesus personally - to know that they had had failures would have been reassuring - to know that success depended on Jesusí intervention even more so.

What does it mean for me?


         Text © 2006 Wellspring

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