Luke 5:1-11 – Miracle of the Catch of Fish – The Call of the Fishermen
Fr. Don Freude Homily Sept. 27, 2015
The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept His offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew.
What a beautiful picture today’s Gospel lesson paints for us! Jesus comes along the Sea of Galilee and is followed by a throng of people who are eager to listen to Him speak.
His words are food for the soul. No man ever spoke as HE did.
On this particular occasion, the crowd was so great that when Christ saw two boats standing by the Lake, He got into one of them and asked Simon Peter to put out a little from the land. Jesus sat down and used the boat as a pulpit.
By Christ getting off a short distance from the shore, the people would not be able to press in upon Him, and at the same time, would still be close enough to hear Him speak.
After speaking from the boat, Jesus turned to Peter and asked him to “Launch out into the deep and let down the nets for a catch of fish.”
Simon Peter does not know that Jesus’ request to “launch out into the deep” will mean a change of life for him.
Peter answered, “We have toiled all night and we have caught nothing.”
The Apostles were experienced fishermen and they knew the laws of the sea. If at night-time, no fish were caught, then during the day a catch was out of the question. Then Peter added: “Nevertheless, at Thy Word I will let down the nets.”
And they let them down.
And a miracle happened.
The boats were so filled with fish that they started to sink.
When Peter realized the wonderful miracle that had taken place before their eyes, he fell down at Jesus feet and prayed, “Depart from me, O Lord, for I am a sinful man.”
This is the process of faith. The Apostle knew that the fish could not be caught. But he accepted the word of Christ within himself; within his will.
And what happened? A miracle?
Yes, a miracle. But the main miracle was not in the abundance of fish, although the catch was a miracle.
The main miracle was the change of soul which occurred in Peter.
The Gospel today allows us to witness a process of profound transformation take place in Peter’s soul.
This transformation shows itself in the way Peter addresses Jesus. At the beginning of the episode he calls Him ‘Master’, at then he calls Him ‘Lord.’
When someone who has accepted Jesus as ‘Master’ then accepts him as ‘Lord’, great spiritual progress has been effected
He saw himself, he saw his essence. This miracle produces in Peter a very vivid awareness of the power of Jesus, but also of the holiness of Jesus and his own sinfulness.
Peter falling to his knees before Jesus, says to Him:
“Depart from me, O Lord, for I am a sinful man.”
Here is the process of faith:
To accept in your heart the word of Christ and fulfill it.
Christianity is grounded in the Good News – the Gospel – and therefore, there is something that permanently fresh, startling and urgent about the Christian faith.
It is news about something astonishing and unprecedented, namely, that a carpenter from Nazareth, is the Son of God in the flesh.
The Gospels and the writings of the New Testament are telling the world about a revolution, an earthquake, an emergency.
Jesus is risen from dead, and, therefore your whole life has to be rearranged around Him.
At times I hear people say: “I don’t know if I believe.”
What do these words mean? They mean, more often than not, that they are not fulfilling the teaching of Christ. And unwilling to change, they question whether or not they believe.
Because if they would only attempt to fulfill the word of Christ, at least one commandment of Christ, then the essence of their life – what is going on with them – would be revealed as it was with Peter.
But we often don’t want to do this, and therefore, we say: I have no faith. I question if I really believe all of this.
But how does one even make an attempt to resolve the doubt?
Well, the same way the Apostle Peter did. In spite of all his experience as a fisherman, he listened to Christ and let down the nets.
Listen to the word of Christ.
But where do we find this word? In the Gospel. That is where
If we know the Gospel and apply it to our life, then our life in Christ will be revealed to us.
And His Resurrection will become more real than the physical world around us.
And he will fill our hearts with an unspeakable joy, with the joy of Eternal Life; and this joy will have no end.
All of us need to take the Gospel in our hands and take everything which the Holy Church gives us and begin to apply it to our life. Then a miracle will happen – a greater miracle than the wonderful catch.
The Gospel asserts that God’s irrevocable desire is to give us what is Good – and not just good things – but God Himself.
But I think that it is important to interject here that one does not progress from the consciousness of sin to the presence of Jesus, but, contrary, it is from the presence of Jesus that one becomes conscious of sin.
It is the way we look at Jesus (or rather, our awareness of the way Jesus looks at us) which produces repentance in us.
The Lord does not disappoint those who take the risk; whenever we take a step toward Jesus, we come to realize that He is already there, waiting for us with open arms.
No one is excluded from the joy brought by our Lord.
There is the story of man who went into a jeweler’s and there saw a beautiful new stone. It sparkled with all the colors of the rainbow, reflecting every shade in its dancing rays. The man bought the jewel, took it home, and opened the package to show it to his family. But all were disappointed when they saw it, for it failed to shine and glow as it did in the store. The owner took it back and demanded an explanation. The clerk said, “Sir, you failed to read the instructions that come with the stone. You must expose the jewel to a strong light and then it will shine.” The man did as instructed, and sure enough the stone began to shine again.
How many times do we fail to read the manual that comes with our purchases?
Before we can shine with our best joy, our best work, our best love, we must read the manual of the Gospel and become exposed to the strong light of Christ.
Jesus says: “I am the light of the world.” ”who follows Me does no walk in darkness.”
Peter shows us the process of exposing ourselves to Christ. When Peter came to the realization of Who Christ was and who he was, Peter fell on his knees before the Lord in worship recognizing his own sinfulness.
Jesus never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking His mercy.
Christ, who told us to forgive one another “seventy times seven” (Matt. 18:22), has given us His example: He has forgiven us seventy time seven.
Time and time again He bears us on His shoulders.
No one can strip us of the dignity bestowed upon by His boundless and unfailing love.
With a tenderness which never disappoints us, but is always capable of restoring our joy, He makes it possible to lift up our heads and to start anew.
When we become aware of Christ’s greatness and our smallness, of His holiness and our sinfulness, then we bring the light of Christ into our lives – a light that will shine for others to experience the presence of Christ and like Peter we will become fishers of men.
Let us never flee from the Good News – the Gospel – from the Resurrection of Jesus – and may nothing inspire more than His life, which impels us onward.
The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept His offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ, joy is constantly born anew.