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Beyond What is Safe
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
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.
Opening Prayer: Jesus, to encounter you in a way that radically changes my life seems a little daunting. I long to let you into my boat. I long to let you command me what to do. I don’t want anything–hesitation or doubt–to get in the way of my relationship with you. Help me as I begin my prayer this morning to be totally open to your will for my life, in the big things and in the little things.
- Put Out into Deep Water: Jesus asked Simon in this passage to return to fishing when this professional had already tried all night and failed. Did Jesus want to catch fish or was he inviting Simon to make an act of faith in him? When we have tried and failed, Jesus may want us to make more room in our life for him to be the protagonist. This call to a deeper level of faith can feel scary, but when we are confident in who is doing the asking, we are less likely to hesitate. Our assurance grows when our sacramental life is robust and we’re praying on a daily basis.
- I Am a Sinful Man: Simon expressed an amazement that he had been chosen despite his unworthiness. When we look at our own sinfulness, we too feel Simon’s shame and might be tempted to turn away. Simon shows us the most spiritually healthy attitude we can have toward Christ—one that is full of humility and recognizes the reality of our weakness. Let us bow low to Jesus, admit our sinfulness before him, and count on him to “complete the good work he has begun in us…” (Philippians 1:6).
- You Will Be Catching Men: From all time, Jesus had a mission in mind for Simon Peter, which Peter fulfilled, even to the point of martyrdom. Jesus has also prepared works for us to do. When we let Christ have free reign in our life, we are able to view all of our work through his eyes. We develop a more truthful appraisal of our efforts and redefine how we evaluate success in our life. Our success is now measured by how pleasing our thoughts, words, and actions are to Christ.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, I welcome your call, and what you are doing in my life and in my heart today. I know that you want to work with me and use me to spread your Kingdom, even though I am unworthy. Thank you for letting me be a part of this great mystery of salvation.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will pray the Litany of Trust.
For Further Reflection: Pray Psalm 51 in a spirit of humble repentance.
Fr. Adam Zettel, LC, was ordained in 2017 and worked for three years as a high school chaplain in Dallas, Texas. Now he resides in Oakville, Ontario, serving youth and young adults.