At the end of the encounter in the gospel for the 5th Sunday of Ordinary Time: “When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him.” Tannehill (Luke, 101 – found in Stoffregen) presents the economic and social implications of this leaving:
“Leaving everything” means leaving the family (cf. 14:26) and leaving one’s means of support. The family was the primary producing unit in antiquity. Whatever economic security there was came through the family. In leaving their families these men were abandoning family responsibilities and their own security. However, we will see later that they moved from an original family to a “surrogate family,” the community of disciples (cf. 8:19-21), as the primary group. This decision did not suddenly make the disciples individuals in the modern sense, but it would take some strength and independence to decide against the group to which society gave the highest value.
The last scene we considered in the gospel for the the 5th Sunday of Ordinary Time was Peter’s reaction to the tremendous catch of fish. Peter begs Jesus to depart from him; what’s the point Peter recognizes his own sinfulness. Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” 11 When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him.
Many bibles add a small title to this account: “Calling Fisherman.” In the parallel accounts found in Mark 1:16-20 and Matthew 4:18-22, Jesus calls out to Peter, Andrew, James and John, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Luke’s tradition tells us a, perhaps, more nuanced account. Continue reading
Yesterday, in our review of the gospel for the 5th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Simon and his companions caught more fish than seemed possible. Nets were ripping, boats were tipping and they had to call to their friends to assist in pulling in the catch – all at the word of the carpenter’s son giving commands to this crew of experienced fishermen. Carpenter or no – the result is a phenomenal catch of fish. Many scholars give lots of attention to the parallels with John 21:4-8 and, while interesting, is distracting. The Johannine setting is after Jesus’ Resurrection and points to the mission of the Church. This Lucan scene is at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and points to the initial reception of those who would be disciples. Continue reading
Yesterday we took a moment to look at the arc of Luke’s narrative, his craft in writing, and all the leads up to this gospel that serves as the Lukan recounting of the calling of the first apostles. Continuing our look into the 5th Sunday of Ordinary Time, we begin:
1 While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God, he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret. 2 He saw two boats there alongside the lake; the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets. 3 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. 4 After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”
This coming Sunday is the 5th Sunday of Ordinary Time in Lectionary Year C. Let’s begin with some context to help us locate this gospel narrative in the larger setting of Luke’s gospel.
For the two previous weeks in the lectionary cycle, Jesus has been in Nazareth engaging the citizens of his own hometown (4:14-30). As Jesus indicated, no prophet is accepted in his own native place (v.24). Leaving Nazareth, Jesus moved on to Capernaum. Again he amazed people while teaching in the synagogue on the Sabbath. While present, there was a man with the spirit of an unclean demon (v.33). Jesus casts the demon from the man, again amazing the people: For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.”(v.36) Also while in Capernaum, Jesus cured Simon’s mother-in-law (vv.38-39) and all manner of people sick with various diseases (v.40) and case out other demons (v.41). Continue reading
“from now on you will be catching men” Literally, the next line reads: “from the now, you shall be catching alive (zogreo) people.” The similar phrase in Matthew and Mark reads: “I will make you (to become) fishermen [halieus] of people.” (This word for “fishermen” is used in v. 2 of our text.) Continue reading
The Reaction. 8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” 9 For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him, 10 and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners of Simon.
The focus of these verses is on Simon, now called Simon Peter for the first time in Luke’s gospel – even James, John, and the unmentioned Andrew, are referred as partners of Simon. It is here that Luke calls Simon as Peter for the first time, “the Rock,” the name he will later have as the leader of the church. His eyes are opened through his act of faith, and he falls before Jesus. Peter is the first person in the public ministry to call Jesus “Lord” (no longer only “Master”: v. 5). Suddenly we realize that the story has been more than the initial calling of the fishermen disciples. From earliest times the church has seen herself as the “bark of Peter” in which faith in Jesus is tested (Mark 4:35–41; Matt 8:23–27). Jesus chooses Simon’s boat, sending him into deep water and calling for a decision based solely on personal faith. The faith of Simon’s response is what makes him the rock on which the church is built (Matt 16:18). Continue reading
The account begins with a wide-angle view: the press of the crowd leading to Jesus’ teaching in a natural amphitheater from a boat on the lake. Quickly, however, events on the boat move to the forefront and the crowd disappears completely from view. The important interaction here is between Jesus and Peter, who represent the ones who respond positively to Jesus. Continue reading
Writing with Intent. Christian tradition and popular biblical opinion is the St. Luke was a physician. I occupy the minority camp on that matter. There have been lots of studies comparing his writing and language to know physicians of his age. There is nothing about this Gospel (or Acts of the Apostles) that points to a physician. But as many have pointed out, there are lots that points to another occupation: rhetorical historian (and yes, he could have been both…). As the rhetorical historian, he writes with a purpose and intent. Green  writes: “Within his overall narrative strategy, the initial purpose of this episode is to secure for Luke’s audience the nature of appropriate response to the ministry of Jesus. Simon’s obedience and declaration of his sinfulness, and especially the final note that Simon, James, and John “left everything and followed” contrast both with the earlier “amazement” of the crowds and with the questions and opposition characteristic of the Pharisees and teachers of the law in the later episodes of this chapter. His further statement, “Go away from me, Lord,” contrasts even more sharply with attempts by people at Nazareth and Capernaum, as it were, to keep Jesus to themselves.” Continue reading
1 While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God, he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret. 2 He saw two boats there alongside the lake; the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets. 3 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. 4 After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” 5 Simon said in reply, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.” 6 When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing. 7 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. 8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” 9 For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him, 10 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.” 11 When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him. Continue reading