This morning’s gospel reading is Matthew’s account of the calling of apostles James, John, Andrew and Peter. As we expect from Mathew, it is short and to the point. Jesus says come and they drop what they are doing and follow Him.
In the version from the Gospel of St. Luke the story is a bit more dramatic.
“While Jesus was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, many people pushed to get near Him. They wanted to hear the Word of God. Jesus saw two boats on the shore. The fishermen were not there because they were washing their nets. Jesus got into a boat which belonged to Simon. Jesus asked him to push it out a little way from land. Then He sat down and taught the people from the boat.
When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Push out into the deep water. Let down your nets for some fish.” Simon said to Him, “Teacher, we have worked all night and we have caught nothing. But because You told me to, I will let the net down.” When they had done this, they caught so many fish, their net started to break. They called to their friends working in the other boat to come and help them. They came and both boats were so full of fish they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he got down at the feet of Jesus. He said, “Go away from me, Lord, because I am a sinful man.” He and all those with him were surprised and wondered about the many fish. James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were surprised also. They were working together with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will fish for men.” When they came to land with their boats, they left everything and followed Jesus.”
This is an amazing story, not because of the fish but because of Peter. Previously I have mentioned how Peter is one of my favorite apostles. Not because of his holiness but because of his humanness. More often than not Peter is the one in the stories that says or does something wrong. He is the one that speaks out of turn, he is usually the last one to get the point, and he was the one that denied Jesus when he needed him most. But here, in this story, he totally gets it.
Imagine that you are in a boat, and it starts to sink. For me, it doesn’t matter the circumstances, if it’s sinking, I’m looking for the life savers!!!!
While I was in college, I paid my way by working as a merchant marine. You know, the big ships that go across the ocean carrying stuff. Two of the things that amazed me the most on these ships were the diversity of the seamen’s background, their personalities, their education and their almost universal fear of the water. It seemed as though almost 90% of the men that I worked with could not swim, did not want to swim and had no desire have anything to do with the ocean other than to sit in a steel bathtub and work on it. You would think that if you were going to make you living on the water you would at least learn to swim. Most of these guys were deathly afraid of the water. So, imaging putting them in this second version of Peter’s calling.
They would see the boat sinking, see the other ship sinking and start looking for a way out that did not involve getting wet. What has always amazed me about the story is that Peter does not look for a way out. He sees all that is going on around him and “he got down at the feet of Jesus. [and says] “Go away from me, Lord, because I am a sinful man.”
What happened to “save us the boat is sinking?” Or, “How about a few less fish?”
So many times, in the scripture, Jesus tells us of what is to come. We are to drink from this water and never thirst again. We will be comforted, we will inherit the earth, we will be given the kingdom of God. Here Peter is clearly seeing what is to come. He chooses not to see the catastrophe happening in the world around him, he sees only salvation and sees how his past has interfered in his attaining eternity with God.
This is exactly what we hear in the first reading. Here Peter is confessing with his heart what he knows to be true in his heart. “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord
and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead… The Scripture says,
No one who believes in him will be put to shame
The boat doesn’t sink, everyone gets to shore. In today’s shorter version they immediately left their boat and followed him.
There is no distinction between them and us, between you and me.
As we heard in the first reading:
There is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, enriching all who call upon him.
For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. It’s just a matter of what we do when we are called.
MT 4: 18-22
As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers,
Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew,
casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen.
He said to them,
“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
At once they left their nets and followed him.
He walked along from there and saw two other brothers,
James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets.
He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father
and followed him.
November 29, 2021
November 29, 2021