Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Astonishment at the Catch

September 3, 2009

Memorial of Saint Gregory the Great, pope and doctor of the Church

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. Luke 5:8-12


We do not cease praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding to live in a manner worthy of the Lord, so as to be fully pleasing, in every good work bearing fruit and growing in the knowledge of God, strengthened with every power, in accord with his glorious might, for all endurance and patience, with joy giving thanks to the Father, who has made you fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light. Colossians 1:8-14


When reading today’s Gospel, I had to check to make sure this was not a different translation of St. John’s “last breakfast” fishing trip on the beach after Jesus was resurrected. Reassured I was in the correct book, I could then examine how St. Luke’s Gospel uses that memorable fishing trip to show the disciples changing the direction of their lives BEFORE the Passion of the Lord.

One big difference is the timing. Luke uses the experience as a tool to evangelize and convert the disciples. John uses the experience as a commissioning experience to send Peter and the others onto missions that will fulfill life “in a manner worthy of the Lord.” They do so with the very real promise (actually already fulfilled) that their efforts will be marked by bearing much fruit. Symbolically, they just experienced that “great catch” when they hauled in their catch after hours of fruitless work.

Their friendship with Jesus made a true and lasting difference in the lives of the disciples. That friendship helped them succeed in their current life and profession. So when Jesus said that they would become “fishers of men,” their lives were bound for continued success.


How often have we worked hard at some task and accomplished very little? When someone comes along and proffers some new advice, are we ready to accept it or would we react with a certain amount of modern day skepticism?

Would we really be willing to put out into deeper water if we thought we would get the same fruitless result? In John’s account, Peter once again is the leader. When he encounters Jesus and the bountiful catch that he reels in, Peter is converted. He confesses his sinful nature but turns away from it.

Do we have the strength and courage to admit when we are wrong and turn in a new direction?