5th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
5th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
“Miraculous Draught of Fish”, fresco on the ceiling of Santa Maria Assunta Cathaedral in Spoleto, Italy
Commentary | Talking Points
- Today’s Gospel story presents Luke’s account of the call of the first disciples.
- In contrast to the story told by Matthew and Mark, here the disciples had a more resounding reason to respond to the call from Jesus.
- Simon Peter’s response to the call reminds us of the response of Isaiah: “Leave me Lord. I am a sinful man.”
SOURCE: Our Sunday Visitor
OT: Isa 6: 1–8; Jer 16:16
NT: John 1: 41–42; 21: 1–19. Matt 4: 18–22; Mark 1: 16–20
SOURCE: The Gospel of Luke (Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture) by Pablo T. Gadenz
Lake of Gennesaret
AGAPE BIBLE STUDY: The Sea of Galilee had several names, including Lake Gennesaret and the Roman name of the Sea of Tiberias (only used in St. John’s Gospel).
FR TONY KADAVIL: This body of water is thirteen miles long and seven and a half mile wide. In Jesus’ time, there were ten prosperous towns situated around the lake. Most of the people residing in them made their living from the waters in front of them. Thus, one gets the idea of how rich the lake was in fish. The Sea of Galilee was the site of many manifestations of Jesus’ Divine power.
The crowd was pressing in…
SERMON WRITER: The crowds are pressing in on Jesus, excited to see the young prophet, and hoping to hear “the word of God” (v. 1). Luke uses that phrase, “word of God,” frequently (Luke 3:2; 8:11, 21; 11:28; Acts 4:31; 6:2, 7; 8:14; 11:1; 13:5, 7, 46; 17:13; 18:11).
FR. CLEMENT THIBODEAU: Jesus exercises all this power through his word.
- He has exercised demons through his word (Luke 4:33-36);
- he has cured Peter’s mother-in-law through his word (Luke 4:39);
- he amazed people in the synagogue through his word (Luke 4:22);
SERMON WRITER: In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus began his ministry in synagogues (4:16-30; 42-44), but now he takes his ministry to the people—to ordinary places where ordinary people spend their days.
On the Seashore
Jesus saw two boats…
AGAPE BIBLE STUDY: Mark 1:16-20 provides the information that Simon and his brother Andrew were in the fishing business and were partners with Zebedee and his sons James and John (Mt 4:18-22; Mk 1:16-20).
…and fishermen washing their nets
In Luke’s account, the disciples are cleaning their nets (in Matthew and Mark they are mending them).
DR. ROD MATTOON: After a night of work, [fisherman] would wash the nets to remove the weeds, sand, pebbles, and also make repairs to torn lines.
- A dirty net would stink up the boat. Nets catch dead fish, mud, and seaweed from off the bottom of the lake or sea. This debris is pulled into the boat when the net is retrieved.
- If the fish and mollusks were not cleared from the nets, rats would feed on the dead debris and chew on the nets, making big holes in them.
- A net which is not cleaned will frighten fish the next time it is used. Fish can see a dirty net, even from a long distance.
SOURCE: Treasures from Luke, Volume 1
CHRISTIAN CENTURY: These future disciples were defined by their nets, which came to represent their lives and their internal sense of control over the day-to-day tasks of life. And thus, as Jesus preached nearby, they were focused on what they could control: the state of their nets…
Onboard Simon’s Boat
Getting into one of the boats…
SERMON WRITER: The boat becomes Jesus’ pulpit—a solution to the press of the crowd (v. 1b).
“Put out into deep water…”
SERMON WRITER: Given his fatigue and frustration, Simon cannot be in the best mood at this moment. He is ready to go home—not to get back into his boat. The amazing thing is not that Simon responds favorably later after seeing the miracle of the great catch, but that he responds favorably now to Jesus’ request to go out once again.
FR. AUSTIN FLEMING: Deep water is darker, more ominous and threatening. Deep water is farther away from the safety of the shore and the harbor. Deep water, simply on account of its dark depths, is more unknown, more mysterious, more impenetrable.
CHRISTIAN CENTURY: When Jesus asks Simon and his fishing cohort to cast their nets in deep water, he is asking them to sacrifice their nets, their former perceptions of identity and worth. The net of their lives breaks in order to be transformed. Jesus invites them to let go of their old routines and identities with the promise of abundant life beyond their abilities. A former life defined by daily fishing tasks can become a new life of hope and faith in the in-breaking presence of God in the world.
MAXIMUS OF TURIN (ACCS): The church is called out into the deep, delving, as it were, into the profound mysteries of the heavens, into that depth concerning which the apostle says, “O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!” (Rom 11:33) For this reason he says to Peter, “Put out into the deep,”—that is to say, into the depths of reflection upon the divine generation. For what is more profound than what Peter says to the Lord, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God?”
“We have worked hard all night”
SERMON WRITER: Jesus’ instructions are counter-intuitive. Peter is the fisherman, and knows best where to find fish. He and his partners have fished all night without results—have proved that there are no fish to be caught. They have been washing nets, wrapping things up (v. 2). They are tired—eager to go home. Letting down the nets again will necessitate additional cleanup—not an attractive prospect for tired, frustrated fishermen.
“At your command I will
lower the nets.”
SR.MARY MCGLONE: Little did Peter know that when he said, “At your command, I will lower the nets,” he was paraphrasing Jesus’ mother who told the angel Gabriel, “May it be done to me according to your word.”
They caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing…
FR. TONY KADAVIL: The miraculous catch of fish is an “abundance miracle.” which have two common characteristics: they meet human needs and they demonstrate God’s power. Later in Luke’s Gospel, we will see Jesus feeding five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish (Luke 9:12-17). The Gospel of John reports another abundance miracle, the wine (160-180 gallons!) Jesus supplied at the wedding in Cana (John 2:1-11).
SERMON WRITER: The great catch brings the disciples to the brink of disaster—the blessing is almost too much. In the next chapter, Jesus will teach the disciples,
“Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be given to you. For with the same measure you measure it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38).
Too often, we measure obedience and charity with an eyedropper instead of a bucket, but eyedropper faith generates only eyedropper rewards. Jesus prefers giving more generously—bucket rewards—fire-hose rewards!
Peter’s Confession of Sin
“Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”
SERMON WRITER: This is the first time that Simon is called Peter in this Gospel. The two names, Simon Peter, are used together frequently in the Gospel of John, but only here and on the occasion of Peter’s confession (Matthew 16:16) in the Synoptics.
AGAPE BIBLE STUDY: Simon recognized they had witnessed a miracle, and Jesus was indeed the Messiah. Coming face to face with God’s Anointed, Simon-Peter was suddenly aware of his sins.
1st Reading CONNECTION
“Woe is me! I am doomed! For I am a man of unclean lips…”
2nd Reading CONNECTION
“I am the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.”
“Do not be afraid”
MICHAEL CARD: So often when [Jesus] reveals himself in new ways, he will have to tell them not to be afraid:
- when he is about to raise the dead girl (Lk 8:50),
- when he walks on the water (Mt 14:27; Jn 6:20),
- at the transfiguration (Mt 17:7),
- when he was raised from the dead (Mt 28:10).
“You will be catching men…”
Clipart by Fr. Richard Lonsdale © 2000. Click image to view more clipart for this Sunday.
AGAPE BIBLE STUDY: Jesus’s words “from now on” (also see Lk 1:48; 2:52; 22:18; Acts 18:6) emphasize the end of Simon’s old life and the beginning of his new life as Simon-Peter, Simon “the Rock” (Jn 1:42; Mt 16:18). In his commissioning to discipleship, Jesus told Simon he would eclipse the miraculous catch of the fish by “catching” the lives of men and women for Christ’s Kingdom. He would replace the night of unproductive human work with fruitful work proclaiming the word under Jesus’s authority.
SERMON WRITER: Catching fish has limits as a metaphor for winning disciples, because the fate of the caught fish is to be killed and eaten while the disciple’s role is to live for Christ. The Greek word zogron is commonly used for trapping—capturing alive. Jesus’ disciples will be inviting people into the kingdom of God, where they will become free from the things that had bound them.
MAXIMUS OF TURIN (ACCS): Ordinarily people are not given life on a boat but transported. Nor are they comforted on a vessel but anxious about its journey. Notice also that this boat is not a boat that is given to Peter to be piloted—rather, it is the church, which is committed to the apostle to be governed. For this is the vessel that does not kill but gives life to those borne along by the storms of this world as if by waves. Just as a little boat holds the dying fish that have been brought up from the deep, so also the vessel of the church gives life to human beings who have been freed from turmoil. Within itself, I say, the church gives life to those who are half-dead, as it were. SERMON 110.
ZONDERVAN: Some have suggested that this statement alludes to Jeremiah 16:16-18, a passage related to judgment, but this unlikely. All the emphasis here is on salvation.
SERMON WRITER: In Mark 1:16-20 and Matthew 4:18-21), Jesus calls Peter and Andrew—and then, in a separate action, calls James and John. All four “immediately” leave nets and family to follow Jesus. This is the opening act of Jesus’ ministry in Mark’s Gospel.
In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus begins his ministry, not with the call of the disciples, but with his sermon at the Nazareth synagogue. He then drives out an unclean spirit (4:31-37), heals Simon’s mother-in-law (4:38-41), and preaches in the synagogues of Judea (4:42-44). These actions result in crowds which “pressed on him and heard the word of God” (5:1). They also establish a rationale for the disciples to follow Jesus.
In John’s Gospel (cf. John 1:36 and John 1:41) there is no talk of nets or fish or disciples who leave everything behind to follow Jesus.
🔴 CATHOLIC THEOLOGY & PRAXIS
KIERAN O’MAHONY: We tend to think of the first disciples as somehow “clergy” with a call special to them. But that is not adequate. Jesus is first of all calling disciples, that is ordinary people, including ourselves.
Acceptance of Mission
They left everything and
SERMON WRITER: In their versions of this story, Mark and Matthew have the fishermen leaving their father and their boat to follow Jesus (Mark 1:20; Matthew 4:22). Luke tells us that they left everything (Stein, 170). This kind of abandonment is characteristic of discipleship:
- Levi leaves his tax booth to follow Jesus (Luke 5:27-28).
- Jesus calls three men to make an abrupt break with their past (Luke 9:57-62).
- Jesus challenges the Rich Young Ruler to sell everything and to give it to the poor as a precondition of discipleship (18:18-22).
Discipleship, then, means shifting one’s concerns from the things of this world to the things of God. In the book of Acts, Luke will continue this emphasis with the story of the early church sharing everything in common (Acts 2:44-47).
1. And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret,
2. And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets.
3. And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.
AMBROSE. When the Lord had performed many and various kinds of cures, the multitude began to heed neither time nor place in their desire to be healed. The evening came, they followed; a lake is before them, they still press on; as it is said, And it came to pass, as the people pressed upon him.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. 25. in Matt.) For they clung to Him with love and admiration, and longed to keep Him with them. For who would depart while He performed such miracles? who would not be content to see only His face, and the mouth that uttered such things? Nor as performing miracles only was He an object of admiration, but His whole appearance was overflowing with grace. Therefore when He speaks, they listen to Him in silence, interrupting not the chain of His discourse; for it is said, that they might hear the word of God, &c. It follows, And he stood near the lake of Gennesaret.
BEDE. The lake of Gennesaret is said to be the same as the sea of Galilee or the sea of Tiberias; but it is called the sea of Galilee from the adjacent province, the sea of Tiberias from a neighbouring city. Gennesaret however, is the name given it from the nature of the lake itself, (which is thought from its crossing waves to raise a breeze upon itself,) being the Greek expression for “making a breeze to itself.” (quasi a γιννάω et ἀὴρ.) For the water is not steady like that of a lake, but constantly agitated by the breezes blowing over it. It is sweet to the taste, and wholesome to drink. In the Hebrew tongue, any extent of water, whether it be sweet or salt, is called a sea.
THEOPHYLACT. But the Lord seeks to avoid glory the more it followed Him, and therefore separating Himself from the multitude, He entered into a ship, as it is said, And he saw two ships standing near the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets.
CHRYSOSTOM. This was a sign of leisure, but according to Matthew He finds them mending their nets. For so great was their poverty, that they patched up their old nets, not being able to buy new ones. But our Lord was very desirous to collect the multitudes, that none might remain behind, but they might all behold Him face to face; He therefore enters into a ship, as it is said, And he entered into a ship, which was Simon’s, and prayed him.
THEOPHYLACT. Behold the gentleness of Christ; He asks Peter; and the willingness of Peter, who was obedient in all things.
CHRYSOSTOM. After having performed many miracles, He again commences His teaching, and being on the sea, He fishes for those who were on the shore. Hence it follows, And he sat down and taught the people out of the ship.
GREGORY NAZIANZEN. (Orat. 37.) Condescending to all, in order that He might draw forth a fish from the deep, i. e. man swimming in the everchanging scenes and bitter storms of this life.
BEDE. Now mystically, the two ships represent circumcision and uncircumcision. The Lord sees these, because in each people He knows who are His, and by seeing, i. e. by a merciful visitation, He brings them nearer the tranquillity of the life to come. The fishermen are the doctors of the Church, because by the net of faith they catch us, and bring us as it were ashore to the land of the living. But these nets are at one time spread out for catching fish, at another washed and folded up. For every time is not fitted for teaching, but at one time the teacher must speak with the tongue, and at another time we must discipline ourselves. The ship of Simon is the primitive Church, of which St. Paul says, He that wrought effectually in Peter to the Apostleship of circumcision. (Gal. 2:8.) The ship is well called one, for in the multitude of believers there was one heart and one soul. (Acts 4:32.)
AUGUSTINE. (de Quæst. Ev. 1. 2. c. 2.) From which ship He taught the multitude, for by the authority of the Church He teaches the Gentiles. But the Lord entering the ship, and asking Peter to put off a little from the land, signifies that we must be moderate in our words to the multitude, that they may be neither taught earthly things, nor from earthly things rush into the depths of the sacraments. Or, the Gospel must first be preached to the neighbouring countries of the Gentiles, that (as He afterwards says, Launch out into the deep,) He might command it to be preached afterwards to the more distant nations.
4. Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.
5. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.
6. And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake.
7. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink.
CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. Having sufficiently taught the people, He returns again to His mighty works, and by the employment of fishing fishes for His disciples. Hence it follows, When he had left off speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. 6. in Matt.) For in His condescension to men, He called the wise men by a star, the fishermen by their art of fishing.
THEOPHYLACT. Peter did not refuse to comply, as it follows, And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all night and have taken nothing. He did not go on to say, “I will not hearken to thee, nor expose myself to additional labour,” but rather adds, Nevertheless, at thy word I will let down the net. But our Lord, since he had taught the people out of the ship, left not the master of the ship without reward, but conferred on him a double kindness, giving him first a multitude of fishes, and next making him His disciple: as it follows, And when they had done this, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes. They took so many fishes that they could not pull them out, but sought the assistance of their companions; as it follows, But their net brake, and they beckoned to their partners who were in the other ship to come, &c. Peter summons them by a sign, being unable to speak from astonishment at the draught of fishes. We next hear of their assistance, And they came and filled both the ships.
AUGUSTINE. (de Con. Ev. lib. 4. c. 6.) John seems indeed to speak of a similar miracle, but this is very different from the one he mentions. That took place after our Lord’s resurrection at the lake of Tiberias, and not only the time, but the miracle itself is very different. For in the latter the nets being let down on the right side took one hundred and fifty-three fishes, and these of large size, which it was necessary for the Evangelist to mention, because though so large the nets were not broken, and this would seem to have reference to the event which Luke relates, when from the multitude of the fishes the nets were broken.
AMBROSE. Now in a mystery, the ship of Peter, according to Matthew, is beaten about by the waves, (Matt. 8:24.) according to Luke, is filled with fishes, in order that you might understand the Church at first wavering, at last abounding. The ship is not shaken which holds Peter; that is which holds Judas. In each was Peter; but he who trusts in his own merits is disquieted by another’s. Let us beware then of a traitor, lest through one we should many of us be tossed about. Trouble is found there where faith is weak, safety here where love is perfect. Lastly, though to others it is commanded, Let down your nets, to Peter alone it is said, Launch out into the deep, i. e. into deep researches. What is so deep, as the knowledge of the Son of God! But what are the nets of the Apostles which are ordered to be let down, but the interweaving of words and certain folds, as it were, of speech, and intricacies of argument, which never let those escape whom they have once caught. And rightly are nets the Apostolical instruments for fishing, which kill not the fish that are caught, but keep them safe, and bring up those that are tossing about in the waves from the depths below to the regions above. But he says, Master, we have toiled the whole night and have caught nothing; for this is not the work of human eloquence but the gift of divine calling. But they who had before caught nothing, at the word of the Lord inclosed a great multitude of fishes.
CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. Now this was a figure of the future. For they will not labour in vain who let down the net of evangelical doctrine, but will gather together the shoals of the Gentiles.
AUGUSTINE. (ut sup.) Now the circumstance of the nets breaking, and the ships being filled with the multitude of fishes so that they began to sink, signifies that there will be in the Church so great a multitude of carnal men, that unity will be broken up, and it will be split into heresies and schisms.
BEDE. The net is broken, but the fish escape not, for the Lord preserves His own amid the violence of persecutors.
AMBROSE. But the other ship is Judæa, out of which James and John are chosen. These then came from the synagogue to the ship of Peter in the Church, that they might fill both ships. For at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, whether Jew or Greek.
BEDE. Or the other ship is the Church of the Gentiles, which itself also (one ship being not sufficient) is filled with chosen fishes. For the Lord knows who are His, and with Him the number of His elect is sure. And when He finds not in Judæa so many believers as He knows are destined to eternal life, He seeks as it were another ship to receive His fishes, and fills the hearts of the Gentiles also with the grace of faith. And well when the net brake did they call to their assistance the ship of their companions, since the traitor Judas, Simon Magus, Ananias and Sapphira, and many of the disciples, went back. And then Barnabas and Paul were separated for the Apostleship of the Gentiles.
AMBROSE. We may understand also by the other ship another Church, since from one Church several are derived.
CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. But Peter beckons to his companions to help them. For many follow the labours of the Apostles, and first those who brought out the writings of the Gospels, next to whom are the other heads and shepherds of the Gospel, and those skilled in the teaching of the truth.
BEDE. But the filling of these ships goes on until the end of the world. But the fact that the ships, when filled, begin to sink, i. e. become weighed low down in the water; (for they are not sunk, but are in great danger,) the Apostle explains when he says, In the last days perilous times shall come; men shall be lovers of their own selves, &c. (2 Tim. 3:1, 2.) For the sinking of the ships is when men, by vicious habits, fall back into that world from which they have been elected by faith.
8. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.
9. For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken:
10. And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.
11. And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.
BEDE. Peter was astonished at the divine gift, and the more he feared, the less did he now presume; as it is said, When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.
CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. For calling back to his consciousness the crimes he had committed, he is alarmed and trembles, and as being unclean, he believes it impossible he can receive Him who is clean, for he had learnt from the law to distinguish between what is defiled and holy.
GREGORY OF NYSSA. When Christ commanded to let down the nets, the multitude of the fishes taken was just as great as the Lord of the sea and land willed. For the voice of the Word is the voice of power, at whose bidding at the beginning of the world light and the other creatures came forth. At these things Peter wonders, for he was astonished, and all that were with him, &c.
AUGUSTINE. (de con. Ev. lib. ii. 17.) He does not mention Andrew by name, who however is thought to have been in that ship, according to the accounts of Matthew and Mark. It follows, And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not.
AMBROSE. Say thou also, Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord, that God may answer, Fear not. Confess thy sin, and the Lord will pardon thee. See how good the Lord is, who gives so much to men, that they have the power of making alive. As it follows, From henceforth thou shalt catch men.
BEDE. This especially belongs to Peter himself, for the Lord explains to him what this taking of fish means; that in fact as now he takes fishes by the net, so hereafter he will catch men by words. And the whole order of this event shews what is daily going on in the Church, of which Peter is the type.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. 14. in Matt.) But mark their faith and obedience. For though they were eagerly engaged in the employment of fishing, yet when they heard the command of Jesus, they delayed not, but forsook all and followed Him. Such is the obedience which Christ demands of us; we must not forego it, even though some great necessity urges us. Hence it follows, And having brought their ships to land.
AUGUSTINE. (ubi sup.) Matthew and Mark here briefly state the matter, and how it was done. Luke explains it more at large. There seems however to be this difference, that he makes our Lord to have said to Peter only, From henceforth thou shalt catch men, whereas they related it as having been spoken to both the others. But surely it might have been said at first to Peter, when he marvelled at the immense draught of fishes, as Luke suggests, and afterwards to both, as the other two have related it. Or we must understand the event to have taken place as Luke relates, and that the others were not then called by the Lord, but only it was foretold to Peter that he should catch men, not that he should no more be employed in fishing; and hence there is room for supposing that they returned to their fishing, so that afterwards that might happen which Matthew and Mark speak, of. For then the ships were not brought to land, as if with the intention of returning, but they followed Him as calling or commanding them to come. (Matt. 4:20, Mark 1:18.) But if according to John, Peter and Andrew followed Him close by Jordan, how do the other Evangelists say that He found them fishing in Galilee, and called them to the discipleship? Except we understand that they did not see the Lord near Jordan so as to join Him inseparably, but knew only who He was, and marvelling at Him returned to their own.
AMBROSE. But mystically, those whom Peter takes by his word, he claims not as his own booty or his own gift. Depart, he says, from me, O Lord. Fear not then also to ascribe what is thy own to the Lord, for what was His He has given to us.
AUGUSTINE. (de Quæst. Ev. lib. ii. c. 2.) Or, Peter speaks in the character of the Church full of carnal men, Depart from me, for I am a sinful man. As if the Church, crowded with carnal men, and almost sunk by their vices, throws off from it, as it were, the rule in spiritual things, wherein the character of Christ chiefly shines forth. For not with the tongue do men tell the good servants of God that they should depart from them, but with the utterance of their deeds and actions they persuade them to go away, that they may not be governed by the good. And yet all the more anxiously do they hasten to pay honours to them, just as Peter testified his respect by falling at the feet of our Lord, but his conduct in saying, Depart from me.
BEDE. But the Lord allays the fears of carnal men, that no one trembling at the consciousness of his guilt, or astonished at the innocence of others, might be afraid to undertake the journey of holiness.
AUGUSTINE. (ubi sup.) But the Lord did not depart from them, shewing thereby that good and spiritual men, when they are troubled by the wickedness of the many, ought not to wish to abandon their ecclesiastical duties, that they might live as it were a more secure and tranquil life. But the bringing their ships to land, and forsaking all to follow Jesus, may represent the end of time, when those who have clung to Christ shall altogether depart from the storms of this world.
SOURCE: eCatholic 2000 Commentary in public domain.
WORD-SUNDAY (3:48) – Larry Broding
Studying God’s Word
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Between last Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 4:21-30)—when Jesus caused an uproar in the synagogue at Nazareth—and this Sunday’s reading, Jesus has been throughout Galilee and Judea (respectively, northern and southern Israel) teaching, casting out evil spirits, and healing the sick, including the mother-in-law of Simon (who would be called Peter).
This Sunday’s Gospel finds Jesus teaching on the shore of the Lake of Gennesaret, sometimes called the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 4:18) and the Sea of Tiberias (John 6:1). To accommodate the large crowds coming to hear him, he gets into a fishing boat (the one belonging to Peter) and teaches from there. This action was seen by the early Church Fathers as a symbol of how Christ teaches through the Church, which is often called the “Barque (or boat) of St. Peter.” • After finishing his teaching, Jesus directs Peter to lower his nets for a catch. Peter, an experienced fisherman, knows very well that it was not the time of day to catch fish. Out of obedience to Jesus, however he complies—with miraculous results.
- How did this miracle affect Peter? Why does it seem to have a more profound effect on him than the healing of his mother-in-law (Luke 4:38-39)? What is he beginning to grasp about Jesus? About sin? About belief in himself?
- What do you think Simon Peter was thinking and feeling in verse 5? 7? 8? When was the first time, if ever, that you responded to Jesus like Peter did in verse 8?
- Compare and contrast the scene from the Gospel reading with that found in the First Reading (Isaiah 6:1-8). How are the scenes similar? Different?
- Peter asks Jesus to depart from him, “For I am a sinful man.” In reply, Jesus tells him not to be afraid. How often to feelings of unworthiness make you afraid to approach God? What do you do with that fear?
- In your “fishing business,” how do you see Jesus: (a) Interesting, but a slightly irrelevant teacher? (b) Potentially a great business partner—if you could hire him to work for you? (c) The one who calls all the shots?
SOURCE: Sunday Scripture Study by Vince Contreras, Used with Permission
FR. EAMON TOBIN
Sharing God’s Word
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1. Turn to the person next to you and share what verse in the Gospel caught your attention. The facilitator can decide which is more helpful: to share the next questions with the whole group, or to share in smaller groups of three or four.
2. Isaiah, Paul and Peter felt unworthy to do God’s work. Have you ever felt like that before God? What helps you to deal with any sense of unworthiness that you may feel?
3. It has been said (and our first reading seems to bear this out) that “the closer we get to God, the more we will be aware of our sinfulness.” Comment.
4. Most Catholics have a deep resistance to “catching others” for Christ. How can we help each other to overcome this resistance? If you have a story to tell in this area, share it.
5. Name one thing today’s Gospel says to us that we disciples of Jesus need to heed and act on.
SOURCE: Commentaries on the Lectionary by Fr. Eamon Tobin (1947-2021), Used with Permission
Let us now pause to see how something(s) said in the reading might lead us into shared prayer.
“Dear Jesus, in each and every moment, in every encounter with others, you call me to be who you created me to be. Please help me to hear and respond more fully – Yes!”
O Holy God, we pray that we may be open to recognizing your holy presence wherever and however you show yourself to us. Do not let fear of our unworthiness prevent us from responding to your invitation to serve you in whatever way you ask.
SOURCE: Commentaries on the Lectionary by Fr. Eamon Tobin (1947-2021), Used with Permission
FR. CLEMENT D. THIBODEAU
Echoing God’s Word
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1. Compare the protests of Peter with those of Zechariah in the Temple, those of Mary with the angel. Each begins by admitting unworthiness. Is this, then, a requirement for acceptance by God? Do you have a sense of your own personal unworthiness in having been called by God to do the will of God in this world? Do you suppose that God calls only those who feel unworthy so that God will be given the credit?
2. Notice that God takes the initiative in calling people to service. Share with others how God has found you, called you, and empowered you for service. Even if you came from a very worthy family, what was so worthy about your own accomplishments before God found you? Describe how God has taken the initiative in your own life.
3. Take a look at the people who are just waiting to be caught alive in the places where you are. Who will bring them to the Lord if you do not? Do you have a sense that God is asking you to witness somehow? Who are the real, live people all around you whom God has placed there so that you might catch them for God? How can you best become a witness to them?