Gospel Reflections

5th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Luke 5:1-11

Sunday Gospel Reflection by Sister Honorine Yamba

Published: February 07, 2016

The Miraculous Catch of Fish

The text begins with the crowd pressing around Jesus and listening to the word of God. This took place at the shore of the Lake of Genesareth. Being on the same level of ground does not make communication easy, and many of his listeners could not see him. Often when Jesus taught he went to a hilly area like a mountain. This time he chose a lakeside. Why did he choose such a place?

If we look at the Old Testament, water is a symbol of a visible link between heaven and earth. In the New Testament, water becomes a means of connecting with divinity and eternal life. Water is a vital need in life for every creature. It has both a creative and a destructive force. In many cultures, water plays a role in purification. It is in this context that Jesus chooses to teach the crowd in order to put his questioners at ease.

The passage does not tell us that the fishermen, too, were listening to Jesus’ words, or even that they have any such desire, as the crowd does. No. They are washing their nets, preoccupied with fishing, concerned about not having found any fish all night. They are thinking about their children and their wives who are joyfully awaiting their return so that they can prepare a generous meal. Disappointment and frustration overcome them when suddenly someone enters one of their boats, a stranger – without asking permission. The boat belongs to Peter.

Peter is often described as someone who is impulsive and somewhat limited. Here, he says nothing, he lets things go, he understands nothing. What does this stranger want? Why his boat? Even worse, Jesus asks him to leave the shore and go out a little; then Jesus sits down, and from the boat he teaches the crowd. Peter forgets about his own concerns and places himself at the disposition of Jesus in his need. He obeys without saying a word.

There is a French adage which says, “The one who gives receives." Peter’s time is not lost. When Jesus finishes speaking, he asks Simon to go out into the deeper water and cast his nets further. This is another test. Simon finds this other request strange, but he obeys despite Jesus’ lack of an explanation. But he adds: “At your word I will cast the nets. “What a capacity for listening! It is an openness which transforms and changes the entire being of an individual. Peter discovers the divine power of Jesus. He recognizes him as Lord. Following this, Jesus calls them, Peter and his companions. Leaving all, even the fish, they follow him, for the call is stronger than everything else. Jesus calls them to a mission beyond their comprehension. Do they understand?

This story is ours, as well. We were all called at one time.

In what situation was it for me? How have I responded?

No matter what social situation from which I have come, I possess a small treasure which I left to follow Christ. What was it?

Following Christ cannot take place without sacrifice. Thanks to his obedience, Peter discovers who Jesus is. What does “obey” mean for me today?

Is it a word from the past, one which is outdated?

Let us seek the meaning of obedience in our lives.


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