.Luke 5:1 Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, 2 he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. 4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch." 5 Simon answered, "Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets." 6 When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!" 9 For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people." 11 When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.
Luke locates this story at the lake of Gennesaret , which is also known as the Sea of Galilee. This fresh water lake contained a great variety of fish, which provided the staple food for the region and provided work for the local population. The point made by Luke is that Jesus did not act like a normal rabbi. He did not go to the temple in Jerusalem to collect the best and the brightest as his students. Instead he went to rural Galilee, where he collected local fishermen as his followers. These were largely uneducated labourers, who would have been called the am ha’aretz - the unwashed proletariat / the working classes / or, as Peter rightly recognises in Luke 5:8 the “sinners” - by the religiously educated classes of Jerusalem.
The criterion for following Jesus is not education, or goodness, or social connection. Jesus invites anyone who will hear him. Though the past two thousand years people have heard the call to follow Jesus. This call has ignored social class, education and cultural background. Perhaps today is the day when you and I hear anew the call to leave everything and follow Jesus.
Prayer: Lord: receive my life today, that I may follow you. And when I go to sleep tonight, receive my life, that I might rest with you. Amen
Third Sunday after Epiphany
9. “The Call to Ministry”
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 65.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.