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Sunday, February 21, 2016

Today’s Reading | Luke 5:1–11

Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 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. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. 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. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; 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.” When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him. (NRSV)

Trying to figure out what to say about Luke 5:1–11, I glanced up at a Joseph Campbell quote on my bulletin board: “We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” This story illustrates the kind of trustful openness to which this quote calls us.

Peter personifies a willingness to let go of what is familiar and comfortable and to grab on to what is unknown and promising. First there’s his initial generosity—even though he had just spent a long and frustrating night working—in taking this itinerant preacher out in his boat so he could teach the crowds more effectively. Then Peter accepts Jesus’ suggestion to cast his nets into the water again, defying logic and common practice and exhaustion. Finally there is Peter’s humble and radical acceptance of a mysterious invitation to be a “fisher of men,” which apparently couldn’t be done in the context of life as he knew it. He and the others “left everything and followed” Jesus. And they didn’t even have Joseph Campbell quotes tacked up to encourage them!

What if I could be like Peter and the other apostles this Lent? What if, instead of seeing Lent as a time to strip away what is sinful and reject what pulls me toward “less-than-ness,” I embraced it as a season of this kind of openness? As a time to discover what Life is waiting to be poured into my life if only I would allow it? As an adventure? If I could muster up that kind of courage, I might well “look forward to holy Easter with joy and spiritual longing” as St. Benedict of Nursia says.

Master and Lord, I too am a sinful person. Help me to see, as you do, who I am and who I could be. Accompany me, please, through Lent 2016, and invite me into life that is more than I have planned. In your name. Amen.

Written by Susan Quaintance, Program Coordinator, Center for Life and Learning

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