In the year King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, with the train of his garment filling the temple. Seraphim were stationed above.
They cried one to the other, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts! All the earth is filled with his glory!" At the sound of that cry, the frame of the door shook and the house was filled with smoke.
Then I said, "Woe is me, I am doomed! For I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!" Then one of the seraphim flew to me, holding an ember that he had taken with tongs from the altar.
He touched my mouth with it, and said, "See, now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed, your sin purged."
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?" "Here I am," I said; "send me!"(P) The word of the Lord.
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, with all my heart, for you have heard the words of my mouth; in the presence of the angels I will sing your praise; I will worship at your holy temple and give thanks to your name. (R)
Because of your kindness and your truth; for you have made great above all things your name and your promise. When I called, you answered me; you built up strength within me. (R)
All the kings of the earth shall give thanks to you, O Lord, when they hear the words of your mouth; and they shall sing of the ways of the Lord: "Great is the glory of the Lord." (R)
Your right hand saves me. The Lord will complete what he has done for me; your kindness, O Lord, endures forever; forsake not the work of your hands. (R)
I am reminding you, brothers and sisters, of the gospel I preached to you, which you indeed received and in which you also stand. Through it you are also being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures; that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at once, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. After that he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one born abnormally, he appeared to me. For I am the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been ineffective. Indeed, I have toiled harder than all of them; not I, however, but the grace of God that is with me. Therefore, whether it be I or they, so we preach and so you believed.(P) The word of the Lord.
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 they 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.(P) The Gospel of the Lord.
On the First Sunday of Advent in December of last year, we began the Church's Liturgical Year "C" and our study of the Gospel of Luke. Up to this point, we have read and meditated upon the circumstances and events surrounding the birth of both John the Baptist and Jesus Christ, Jesus' early childhood, and His presentation in the Temple, Luke (1:5-2:52), the ministry of John the Baptist, Luke (3:1-17), Jesus' baptism in the Jordan river, Luke (3:21-22), the beginning of His earthly ministry in the province of Galilee and, more importantly, His teaching and rejection in His Hometown, Nazareth, Luke (4:16-30). Besides, we have also looked at Luke's purpose for writing the Gospel to a person named Theophilus, Luke (1:1-5).
Luke records that Jesus, after having been rejected by the people of Nazareth, returned to Capernaum, preached in the synagogues, and performed a series of healings, Luke (4:31-44). Meanwhile, according to the Gospel of John, Jesus had performed His first miracle of turning water into wine at a wedding in Cana, which was witnessed by His mother and first disciples; after the wedding, He had to gone to Capernaum with His disciples where He preached and healed people, John (2:1-12). While the Gospel of Mark also recounts the same healings as Luke, Luke presents them in a different order than Mark, Mark (1:16-32). However, the important thing to note here is that Jesus knew that the people of Nazareth, despite the deep rooted prejudices against Him, were eager for wonders, such as those He had done at Capernaum, Luke (4:23).
Today's gospel opens with Jesus standing beside Lake Gennesaret. Gennesaret is a fresh water lake in Israel, and is also known as the Sea of Galilee as well as the Sea of Tiberias. By this time, Jesus' fame had spread throughout the region of Galilee and lots of people began to follow Him. Luke mentions that the people "pressed upon Jesus to hear the word of God". It shows the crowd's eagerness to hear God's word explained to them. They had probably known the main texts of the scriptures, but they needed interpretation. As Jesus explained God's word, the crowd wanted to make sure that they heard it rightly; they pushed forward towards Him. At the time, Simon and other fishermen had pulled up their boats onshore, and they were washing their empty nets.
To avoid being pushed into the water by the crowd, Jesus got into a boat that belonged to Simon, asked him to move it off the shore and from there He preached to the people. The story unfolds further that, after Jesus had finished teaching, He told Simon to put the nets out into deeper water. But Simon, who had years of experience with fishing, faced a dilemma. He complained to Jesus that, although they had been fishing all night, they had caught nothing. And just as surely, Jesus recognized Simon's frustration with the futility of their efforts. Despite some initial reluctance, Simon followed Jesus' instructions, and there followed an instant, miraculous abundant catch of fish. The catch was so great that others had to help bring the nets ashore.
Overwhelmed by the miracle, Simon fell to his knees and begged Jesus to go away for he was a "sinful man". Simon's reaction to the miraculous catch went beyond his unbelief. For the first time, he recognized his true spiritual condition as a sinner. He felt unworthy to be in Jesus' divine presence. Thus, Peter became the first person in the Gospel of Luke to acknowledge his sinfulness.
As other fishermen were also looking breathless and spellbound, Jesus comforted Simon and encouraged him to put away his fear. Reassuringly, Jesus said to Simon that he would not have to perish because of sin but live a meaningful, purposeful, and fulfilling life. From that time on, he would be fishing for people and bringing them to the Kingdom of God, instead of catching fish. Jesus offered Simon a much better life than he had envisioned for himself.
Luke then concludes the story by saying that Simon, James and John brought their boats ashore and left everything to follow Jesus. Up until this point, the disciples had seen many wonders Jesus performed on others. But now, through the miraculous catch of fish, they personally experienced for themselves the wonderful action of God's grace in their lives. All the more so, it became a turning point in their life; it led them to a life changing decision. They left everything and followed Jesus.
What is the message for us?
Like Simon's disappointing night of fishing, we all face moments of disappointment and frustration in our lives. Often our attempts to serve the Lord in our strength yield empty nets; our efforts to overcome sinful habits or make amends in our attitude and behaviour end in defeat; and in spite of our best endeavours, we have trouble forming relationships with others. In these moments, we should not give ourselves to fear and worry. Instead, we can call on the Lord or seek His direction.
However, and often times, God graciously intervenes and guides us even before we seek Him. When He does offer some definite instructions to aid us in our spiritual growth, just as Simon did, we can courageously express our feelings of disappointment and frustration to Him. But at the same time, we must accept His instruction and apply it to our lives in great faith so that, as we heed Christ's commands, we too can experience extraordinary circumstances and events.
Today, we are also invited to do the same, not necessarily neglecting our family obligations and responsibilities but rather leaving behind hatred, anger, greed, selfishness, envy and anything of evil so that we can draw many people into our fishing net of God's family.(P) Amen.
God Bless You!