1 One day Jesus was standing on the shore of Lake Gennesaret while the people pushed their way up to him to listen to the word of God.
2 He saw two boats pulled up on the beach; the fishermen had left them and were washing the nets.
3 Jesus got into one of the boats – it belonged to Simon – and asked him to push off a little from the shore. Jesus sat in the boat and taught the crowd.
4 When he finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Push the boat out further to the deep water, and you and your partners let down your nets for a catch.”
5 “Master,” Simon answered, “we worked hard all night long and caught nothing. But if you say so, I will let down the nets.”
6 They let them down and caught such a large number of fish that the nets were about to break.
7 So they motioned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. They came and filled both boats so full of fish that the boats were about to sink.
8 When Simon Peter saw what had happened, he fell on his knees before Jesus and said, “Go away from me, Lord! I am a sinful man!”
9 He and the others with him were all amazed at the large number of fish they had caught.
10 The same was true of Simon’s partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee. Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.”
11 They pulled the boats up on the beach, left everything, and followed Jesus.
Other readings: Isaiah 6:1-8; Psalm 138:1-5, 7-8; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
This is such a well-known story that we can read it and yet not get to the heart of this miraculous event. Luke invites us to become witnesses to the miracle and to the call of the first three disciples into service.
Crowds were already following Jesus to listen to him teaching the word of God. What did they see in Jesus? Was it something more than a simple preacher or did they recognise God’s representative?
When Simon witnesses the miraculous catch of fish he sees Jesus in a new light. He acknowledges Jesus as Lord (verse 8) and feels the burden of his sinfulness before Jesus. He immediately falls to his knees and asks Jesus to leave him. The prophet Isaiah reacted in a similar way when he saw a vision of God (see Isaiah 6). God seems to give both men impossible missions. Jesus tells Simon not to be afraid and then tells him he has a new job – catching people, not fish. We are not given any more details at this stage but Luke hints it is Jesus who will
turn these humble fishermen into “catchers of people”.
Simon and the other new disciples are captivated by Jesus and leave with him. Implicit in what Jesus has said is the need for the disciples to be with Jesus all the time to fulfil their vocation. Nets, boats, livelihood, homes and families are all left behind as the disciples set off with Jesus for a totally new life.
What does Simon’s initial reaction to this miracle reveal about who he thought Jesus was? Have you ever experienced the burden of your sinfulness? How do you think God wants us to respond to him at this time? What can we learn from Simon’s response? To become a “catcher of people” Simon, James and John had to spend time with Jesus and follow him. What does this mean for us today? Is every Christian called to be “a catcher of people”? If so, how can we draw practical lessons from Jesus in the time we spend with him?
Give thanks that we can know forgiveness of our sins because of Jesus’s death and resurrection. 1 John 1:9 gives us the assurance that “if we confess our sins to God … he will forgive us our sins and purify us from all our wrongdoing”. Ask God to help you forget your own frailties and to give you the faith and courage to follow Jesus and tell others about him.
Contemplate God’s pure holiness. Join the seraphim in declaring God’s holiness
Lectio Divina is an ancient tradition of reading and engaging with God’s Word. These outlines for the Sunday Gospel readings are published by the Bible Society. Download at Biblesociety.org.uk/lectio. © 2008 United Bible Societies. Bible text Good News Translation, second edition © 1992 American Bible Society, New York