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Reflecting on the Gospel (5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C)

A Gospel Reflection for the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C (Luke 5:1-11)


By Veronica Lawson RSM (Ballarat East)


“Put out into deep water and pay out your nets for a catch.” That is the crazy advice Jesus offers Simon Peter who has been fishing all night with his friends and returned to shore without a single catch. Having offered his advice, Jesus gets into Simon’s empty boat and teaches the crowds from the boat. Simon no doubt has one ear on Jesus’ teaching as he and his despondent companions clean the nets and pack up ready to go home for a rest. The focus on Simon Peter in this call narrative certainly foreshadows the key role he will play as leader of the Twelve in Luke’s two-volume work. But this story is not just about Peter.


“Put out into deep water and pay out your nets for a catch.” This is what disciples are called to do, even if the odds of a catch seem very slim. Discipleship is about trust and about accepting that there are layers of reality and of mystery that cannot be plumbed alone or even in partnership. Like Peter, we have to acknowledge our limitations, our “˜sinfulness’ in gospel terms. We are asked to leave “˜everything’ and “˜follow’ God’s anointed prophet, to live in our lives the pattern of Jesus’ life. The previous chapter has provided glimpses of that pattern: bringing good news to the destitute, healing to the sick and the broken, setting the captives free.


“Do not be afraid.” This is the other side of the coin. Peter needs to rely on God’s power to overcome the forces that interfere with the mission. “˜Catching’ or “˜netting’ people rather than fish will be his business in the future. The fishing metaphor is sustained throughout the passage. The big catch is symbolic of the success that Peter and his companions can expect, even if it is fraught with danger (the risk of torn nets and sinking boats). In the context of the gospel, “˜catching people’ is not to be understood as a recruitment drive for the reign of God movement. It is, rather, a mission to bring the vulnerable safely to shore where they can know the compassion and justice and “˜hospitality’ of God mediated through the lives of those who take up the challenge to live the “˜good news’.