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The Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

February 9, 2019

Alleluia, Alleluia.

The Lord sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor,

and to proclaim liberty to captives.

Alleluia, Alleluia.

.The Gospel of Saint Luke 5: 1-11

While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God, he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret.  He saw two boats there alongside the lake; the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets.  Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore.


Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.  After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”  Simon said in reply, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.”  When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing.  They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come to help them.   They came and filled both boats so that the boats were in danger of sinking.


When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”  For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him, and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners of Simon.  Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”


When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him.

The Gospel of the Lord

REFLECTION

Our holy Church has carefully arranged the Gospel readings for the last three Sundays to provide a mini course in Christian Discipleship anchored in the Word of GodJesus Christ, the Word of God.  In other words, the Church is teaching us that discipleship begins by rooting oneself in the Word of God and is brought to completion in a life of self-sacrifice, imitating the life of Jesus. 

Saint Luke’s Gospel emphasizes that Jesus Christ is the complete and absolute Word of God – the one and only true source of divine wisdom and the fullness of life.  When we listen to the Word of God proclaimed at Mass in the Liturgy of the Word, or in our daily reading of Sacred Scripture, we are in the presence of Christ who calls us like he called Peter to embrace him as the Only Way, the Only Truth, and the Only Life.   Jesus’ guidance of Peter proved to be fruitful in a harvest of fish, but more so a source of mercy and direction of life.  Jesus is the gift of the Father’s mercy and life.

This Sunday’s Gospel further unfolds the implications of accepting Jesus as the final Word and Lord.   To embrace Jesus as the Word challenges us not to be passive listeners, but to be active ministers in service of the Word.  Saint Peter’s call is significantly connected to the teaching ministry of Jesus.   After hearing the Word, Peter is presented with a challenge: Put out into deep water — the realm of uncertainty and potential danger.   Peter’s company had: worked hard all night and have caught nothing.   But, at the command of Jesus Peter risks the deep and lowers his nets.   When they had done this they caught a great number of fish.  Peter listened to the Word of God; Peter believed the Word of God; and Peter followed the Word of God.  Therefore, Peter experienced a multiplication of blessings.

Peter’s reaction to the catch and the display of divine power should not surprise us.  Whenever anyone becomes aware of the overwhelming presence of God, the inevitable reaction is to see one’s smallness, unworthiness and sinful condition.  However, this profound display of God’s care and providence propelled Peter to trust God, to ask for mercy and to believe the Word of God that assured him: Do not be afraid!

Saint Luke provides this significant episode in the life of Peter not as a mere recording of a past event happening to one individual.  Saint Luke reveals the divine pattern of God calling people into intimate union with Jesus through discipleship: daily listening to the Word of God; taking the risk of leaving calm waters at His command; surrendering our ways of fishing to His better way of living; acknowledging our unworthiness; and, setting aside everything for Him!

The Gospel proclaims that the Word of God was sent by the Father so that we would listen, believe, fish for others, and leave everything and follow His Son into eternal life!

Monsignor Joseph Marino

 

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