Gospel Reflections

5th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Luke 5:1-11

Sunday Gospel Reflection by Sister Helen Bellew

Published: February 10, 2019


From a dramatic perspective, today’s Gospel reading is one of the really good stories in scripture!  It includes sufficient detail to enable the reader to imagine the scene.  We see crowds on the seashore pressing ever closer to Jesus as they listen to the Word of God, pressing to the point where Jesus moves into one of the boats.  This leads to the encounter between Peter and Jesus and the initial exchange in which Peter first expresses doubt, then trust. There is suspense, launching the nets for the second time not knowing what to expect; the surprise result, nets bulging to the breaking point, pulsing with live fish. Peter was so overwhelmed that he spontaneously declared himself unworthy. Jesus responds with full confidence in Peter and entrusts to him the Gospel message.  Finally, we witness the amazing, extraordinary ending: Peter and his companions immediately leave EVERYTHING to follow Jesus!

Each of the other two readings adds depth and nuance to what is happening here.  The selection from Isaiah is filled with vivid royal imagery portraying the Lord as powerful and mighty!  The prophet is humbled by his encounter with the “Lord of Hosts” and recognizes his unworthiness. Nevertheless, he responds positively when the Lord says” Whom shall I send?”   The songwriter Dan Schutte, in his Hymn “Here I am, Lord" imagines for us what the conversation might have been like: “I, the Lord of sea and sky, I have heard my people cry…I have borne my peoples’ pain…I have wept for love of them.  The reply “Here I am Lord…I have heard you calling in the night.  I will go Lord if you lead me; I will hold your people in my heart.”

St. Paul, claiming his own unworthiness as one who persecuted the followers of Jesus, converted his passion for persecution into equally passionate commitment to preaching the Gospel message.  He speaks to the Corinthians as those who “stand in the Gospel”, convinced that Jesus died, was buried and rose again for our sins in accordance with the scriptures.  Importantly, he acknowledges that it is through God’s grace that he continues to be faithful even in times of adversity.

 From all eternity, God has desired to share God’s life and love with all creatures.  We see that clearly in each of the readings today.  In the Hebrew scripture and the New Testament story, God embraces human weakness and imperfection and extends an invitation to carry the message of salvation to all the world.  The God of abundance and inclusiveness – the nets were full to breaking and must have included a variety of fish – this God longed for enthusiastic, passionate, committed and persevering believers to carry His message of love and forgiveness to every corner of the universe! This God is longing for each of us.  Will we respond “Here I am…send me?

« View all Gospel Reflections