Do not be afraid

This morning’s gospel reading is Luke’s account of the calling of apostles James, John, Andrew and Peter. In the style that we come to love about Luke it is filled with drama:
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.

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. A number of times I have mentioned that Peter is one of my favorite of the 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 one of the ones 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!!!!

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 the one that is clearly seeing what is to come. He chooses not to be distracted by 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. What an amazing excerpt from one of Paul’s letters: “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you considers himself wise in this age,
let him become a fool, so as to become wise.

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God.”
The obvious wisdom of the world is for Peter to grab a life jacket and head overboard. But instead, he turns to his salvation, his savior, the one thing that matters in eternity and says, “I am a sinful man”.

And Jesus looks at him, looks at the world around him, looks into his soul, his past and says, “do not be afraid”.

The boat doesn’t sink, everyone gets to shore. And the gospel ends almost abruptly, it just says that “they left everything and followed Him.

What more was there to say, in those four words Jesus said it all. You got troubles, you got worries, you got deadlines, or commitments, is the world crashing down around you, is your boat filled with fish and about to sink to the bottom of the sea?
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

LK 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.

September,1 2022

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