Last week’s gospel left us with Jesus walking away from the synagogue. He had just finished curing Gentiles and the Nazoreans were “filled with Fury” because He seemed to be overlooking them, His own townspeople. In today’s gospel, we see Jesus in a different light. He is at the sea of Galilee, also called Gennesaret, teaching the crowds that followed Him. He had performed miracles at Capernaum and the people had heard about them – news spread fast in those days even without social media. He was becoming popular because of His words and works. In this gospel, he preached first, then told the weary fisherman, Peter, and his friends to go out to the deep and drop their nets. We all know what happened after that. Once they came back with their catch, they left everything and followed Him. Being a mother and grandmother of fishermen, I know how happy they are when they catch fish, and their degree of happiness goes up increasingly with catching more or bigger fish. Peter, James and John were “astonished”, and I imagine very pleased with their catch, yet “they left everything and followed Him.”
Personally, I don’t know how fishermen can do it. I cannot fish, as a matter of fact when I take them fishing, I cannot help in any way except to clap for them when they catch a fish. I am a total observer, far away from the action, may I add. Kind of like the crowd who was listening to Jesus. What would it be like to be in that crowd and witness the miracle right before your eyes? Would you have wanted a share of the fish to fill your earthly body? Or would you have wanted to go follow Jesus to fill your soul? Just like last week, when Jesus left the synagogue, what would you have done? How happy must God be when we do His work here on earth and become fishers of His people!
I have two different trains of thought about this gospel. First of all, to me the nets being cast into the sea and being brought up full, signify my own earthly baggage. When we are born, our nets are empty, but as we age, our nets get full of earthly desires. Father John Riccardo talks about dropping the nets. Are our nets holding us back from following our Lord? Do our earthly desires bog us down so we cannot see or have the time to do what we need to do to gain an entry into heaven? Do we hear Jesus calling us but with the world being so alluring and attractive, do we ignore that call? We are supposed to want more than what is here on earth, we need to focus on the messages left for us by Jesus – to do good and be His hands and feet here and then be with Him for our final reward. Do we drop our nets and follow Him? Leave all our earthly desires to do His will? I think that can be accomplished if we truly pay attention to our world around us. We have His script to follow, the Beatitudes are our guides. I think we can still remain where we are and do His work. We don’t have to leave our families or communities to accomplish His works here where we live. We can do it right where we are.
The second thought I have about this gospel is the number of fish caught could also be the how full our nets are of good works to give away. Do we have talents that we are holding back that could be used for the greater good, but we don’t use them? Do we fully give of ourselves as Jesus did during his public life? He gave of Himself generously according to Luke who recorded His works. Jesus must have been exhausted for His three years of doing all the miracles and spreading the words of love and forgiveness, which was a novel message in those times. He didn’t stop even though He knew what was coming. His message of turning the other cheek was not something they were used to hearing or doing. Even today, it is novel, not popular, to think about. Some things never change but that doesn’t mean we should stop trying. We can try doing good works one at a time, like catching a single fish on a rod. Or we can try doing something bigger like catching many fish in a net. What do we use as bait? It is said that the fishermen fished at night and used a light to attract the fish and that is how they caught so many that they needed nets.
Do we use our own light to attract God’s people? Do we Catholics shine our light as a beacon for others to see? Do they know we are Christians by our love and charitable actions? Or do we keep that to ourselves? I feel as though the obvious message here is to continue to strive to be all that we can be every day and to share of ourselves. Father John said last week at mass try to do one good thing every day for someone. I saw him two days later and he asked me what good thing did I had done yesterday? It caught me off guard and I had to really think about it. We can become so complacent that we forget what we are supposed to be doing for God and His people here on earth. I hope God will take us out of our fog that we may fall into when we’re not paying attention. I’ve tried to remember that God asks us to do good every day, but being human some days I fail, but I (we) cannot give up.
I know I’ve asked a lot of questions above, so my final question is: what do we use as a lure to further the kingdom of God here on earth?