5th Sunday in Ordinary time, Lk 5, 1-11
We all know that becoming Christian is to become Jesus' disciples and missionaries of the word of God and witness for his love. I remember that many newly ordained priests chose this phrase for their priesthood: “ We worked hard all night long and caught nothing but if you say so, I will pay out the nets”. It means we had already this experience, we did try everything but by your word, your will, we’ll do it.
In today’s Gospel, We have heard the famous story of choosing or calling the first disciples. Jesus calls people to follow Him– and we also recognize that He is calling us. The call of the Lord comes in many ways: through a vision as in the call of Isaiah or through the simple actions that we hear in the Gospel today–which are still miraculous–or through the preaching of others as we hear in the second reading, from the First Letter to the Corinthians and Saint Paul had his own mysterious experience of this call.
The newly ordained priests, when they choose this sentence they want to say that even though we have our experience; we know that it is difficult, sometimes impossible. But as you say, we believe in you and with your grace and the grace that you gave me has not been fruitless. That phrase is an answer to Jesus’ invitation by abandoning their own will, their human experience to do the will of God and to share his divine experience – as Peter had with the miraculous catch.
We have heard in the Bible about the vocational stories of the prophets. Everyone is afraid of God’s call. As Moses tried to convince God that he didn’t speak very well. Jeremiah complained that he was too young. It may be due to our human weakness abandoning our plan to realize God’s plan. We don’t know where we will go. Or we may feel not being worthy of that mission as Isaiah said “What a wretched state I am in! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips…”. Peter also says “ Leave me, Lord, for I am a sinful man” Lk 5,9. However, as Saint Paul said, “ Since I persecute the Church of God, I hardly deserve the name apostle, but by God's grace that is what I am”. Yes, by God’s grace we can do it.
Jesus’ response to Simon Peter: “Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men”. Pope Francis said. This is the logic that guides Jesus’ mission and the mission of the Church: go in search, “fish” for men and women, not to proselytize, but to restore full dignity and freedom to all, through the forgiveness of sins. This is the essential point of Christianity: to spread the free and the love of God, with a welcoming and merciful attitude toward everyone, so that each person can encounter God’s tenderness and have the fullness of life.
Today’s Gospel challenges us: do we know how to truly trust in the Word of the Lord? Or do we let ourselves become discouraged by our failures? We are called to be fishers of men. This means that our way of life should be attractive and not repulsive to others. Jesus attracted much crowd to himself always. He observed the crowd carefully to know their needs. He pitied the apostles who caught nothing all night (Lk. 5:1-11). He made them catch a lot of fish. Because they believed in him, he changed their job into catching men. That is, making others know the truth about faith in God. May our lives, by abandoning our will to do the will of God, inspire others to follow Jesus.