Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.
When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink.
But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Does today’s Gospel make conventional sense? Jesus tells relative strangers, Simon and partners, to do just about everything opposing their instinct and experience: explore deeper waters further from shore than comfortable, fish at a time of day that is customarily unproductive and undo the usual clean-up work. What could possibly compel Simon’s crew to follow the ravings of an itinerant preacher and follow contradictory orders?
Most of us don’t know enough about commercial fishing to get into Simon’s head, but we know the feeling of repeated frustration and failure. We do everything we think necessary, use the methods that we’ve been taught. Yet, a patient doesn’t respond to treatment, investment returns lag, students don’t respond to tried-and-true pedagogy. Conventional wisdom can be our greatest obstacle.
Can we put aside predictable habits in our daily life, our work, our communities, maybe even our prayerful relationship with God to try something radical? God’s help may come in no other way.
Gracious God, surprise us! Ask us to do what seems impractical, unconventional, or counter-cultural. Give us confidence to do what seems dangerous. Help us go beyond our doubt, fear and anxiety. Invite us to break from our well-travelled roads and step on the unknown paths where you nudge us on. Shine creative light in our comfortable darkness. Lead us to the radical choice of following your son, Jesus.
—Jim Broderick KingPlease share the Good Word with your friends!