The Gospel reading for the 5th Sunday of the Year, and this year, the last Sunday before Lent begins, takes us from Nazareth and Jesus’ troubles, to Galilee and the disciples and their troubles there…
Jesus was standing one day by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the crowd pressing round him listening to the word of God, when he caught sight of two boats close to the bank. The fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats – it was Simon’s – and asked him to put out a little from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.
When he had finished speaking he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water and pay out your nets for a catch.’ ‘Master,’ Simon replied, ‘we worked hard all night long and caught nothing, but if you say so, I will pay out the nets.’ And when they had done this they netted such a huge number of fish that their nets began to tear, so they signalled to their companions in the other boat to come and help them; when these came, they filled the two boats to sinking point.
When Simon Peter saw this he fell at the knees of Jesus saying, ‘Leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man.’ For he and all his companions were completely overcome by the catch they had made; so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were Simon’s partners. But Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on it is men you will catch.’ Then, bringing their boats back to land, they left everything and followed him.
Jesus, Light of the World, has helped Peter to see his own fallibility and weakness. Peter declares himself a sinful man. But then Peter is rather prone to excitement and perhaps to exaggeration. Maybe he is a sinful man, even more sinful than others; and maybe not. What is clear is that Jesus has presented a challenge and brought a different clarity to Peter, revealed a different horizon for his life than he has known heretofore.
Peter is overwhelmed by the newness, the goodness, the beauty and the truth. And collapses before it all.
Jesus reaches out to him – certainly in his words, but surely in gesture too, raising Peter to his feet: ‘Do not be afraid…’
- What afears you?What makes you daunted?
- Spend time with the Lord in quiet prayer asking for the confidence you need to find all things new…
Painting ‘On the Sea of Tiberias’ by Polenov. Tretvakov State Gallery, Moscow. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.