Fishing All Night and Catching Nothing
5th Sunday in Ordinary Time
February 6, 2022
“Simon said in reply, ‘Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.’”
from Luke 5:1-11
It is significant that Peter and his fishing partners had caught absolutely nothing on the night before Jesus called them. Peter and Andrew had met Jesus before this, near the Dead Sea when John the Baptist was preaching, so Jesus’ voice was a familiar one. While fishing by day, often a spotter would stand on the shore to watch for and advise the boats. Acting like a helpful “spotter”, Jesus called out his advice for them to try one more time.
The world that we live in looks for winners, those who can get results. Not so with Jesus. Instead, Jesus also pays attention to the effort that went into what we did, not only the results. Jesus knows what we have been through and our handicaps; he knows if we have really tried and when we haven’t because he made us.
Simon and his fishing partners must have felt like failures that morning, having fished all night and caught nothing. How often we, too, can feel this way if we judge our results and others by worldly standards and not God’s. Jesus called out to Peter that day at precisely the moment when Peter was most vulnerable, most down, least successful. Peter was especially open to the words of Christ at that moment.
Here we can notice a pattern: as Jesus called Peter, so too does he call us. When does he call? Jesus could have chosen to call Peter after a successful fishing expedition; but no, Peter will be most open to the Lord precisely when he is most vulnerable. In the same way, when we are most in need, most sinful, most hurting, most vulnerable, here we will often find Jesus calling out to us as well.
Perhaps Jesus will call us to spend some extra time with him in the Adoration Chapel, to attend Mass and really pray the Mass, to read our Scripture at home. Jesus may come to us in the form of a person in need. Jesus will be hiding there, waiting for us to find him, calling out to us for a greater life of service. Peter, having had a genuine encounter with the Lord’s power after obeying his voice and filling his boat with fish, is utterly humbled by our Lord’s attention: “Leave me Lord, for I am a sinful man!” says Peter. But, it is precisely this, in Peter’s weaknesses that Jesus will use to show forth his power, and it will be the same way with us, if we will only let Jesus act through us.