Called to Urgency
Gospel Reflection for Thursday, Sept 7, 2023
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.
Today’s readings are all about repentance and commands to reform our lives now, not putting it off any longer. You may recall that in the Gospel of John, it describes Peter’s brother first believing in the Lord and telling Saint Peter that the Messiah had come. It tells us that Saint Peter rushed to Jesus and believed in Him immediately. But, in today’s Gospel, Jesus calls to Peter. One must wonder if perhaps Peter did, immediately believe, but went back to his life as a fisherman… did his faith waiver as was his nature? Or, is this simply another version of the same story?
Perhaps the nets are symbolic. I am an avid fisherman and I like to not only use a hook and a line, but I love fishing nets. Nets are very efficient means of fishing and they have a fascinating history. I enjoy tying my own fishing nets, often using ancient designs, some of which date back thousands of years. The ingenuity of man is very well demonstrated in the ways our ancestors figured out how to hunt, fish and survive before modern convenience. Today, just by coincidence (if there is such a thing), I just finished processing yucca fronds for fiber and I am making cordage which I may turn into a net bag, based on a 4,000+ year old Roman pattern. For a fisherman like Saint Peter, making and mending nets would have been a daily task. Perhaps he enjoyed the meditative aspects of the craft as do I. Perhaps it was just a necessary chore.
Regardless, Jesus appears and the quiet life of a fisherman if immediately suspended. However, as we read the Gospels, we will see Saint Peter fishing at other times and after the Crucifixion, he returns to this profession until Jesus calls him again. I think that fishing was a passion for Saint Peter, something comfortable and familiar and not just a profession. But, each time Jesus arrives He calls to Peter with immediacy, with urgency. We see Saint Peter even jump into the water and swim to Jesus and attempting to walk on water. Our Lord demands action now!
Why now? Well, as He explains in the parable of the rich man who laid up his treasure on earth, God may call us at any moment. “remember your death, oh man….” None of us is guaranteed another moment on this earth. We could die in our sleep or be in an auto accident on any day. NOW is the time to repent! This very moment is the time to answer God’s call. Remember how even the residents of Nineveh immediately believed in the message of God and repented. Nineveh was known as a very wicked city. Yet, they responded to the prophet Jonah far more willingly than the religious Jews usually did when God sent prophets to them, and in stark contrast to when the Messiah appeared. We must be very careful not to become complacent and hard hearted. We can experience Jesus, in person at each Holy Mass. Mend your nets; be ready. When Jesus calls, be ready to answer, jump in and swim, walk on water, become fishers of men if called… do not put off for a moment, though, the call to repentance because you never know how many minutes you have left!
Judson Carroll is the author of several books, including his newest, Confirmation, an Autobiography of Faith. It is Available in paperback on Amazon:
His new podcast is The Uncensored Catholic https://www.spreaker.com/show/the-uncensored-catholic