Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time • Year C

Anthony P. Burrascano, O.S.A.
Saint Augustine Preparatory School
Richland, New Jersey

Is 6:1-2a, 3-8
Ps 138:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 7-8
1 Cor 15:1-11 or 1 Cor 15:3-8
Lk 5:1-11

In the Gospel today Jesus is doing something he does so often: he is teaching. The crowds are very large and to avoid the crush of the people he asks some fishermen to pull out from the shore so he might continue to teach without the crowd pressing in on him. The fishermen are strangers but they respond to his request. When Jesus is finished he tells the fisherman to go out and lower their nets, to which they respond that they have been fishing all night and have caught nothing, but once again they follow the request of Jesus and lower their nets. Their catch is so abundant they have to seek help from others to bring in the full nets. Simon and his partners are astounded at what has been accomplished and look at Jesus in a new way, in amazement. Simon tells Jesus to depart for he is not worthy to be with this man. Instead of leaving them, Jesus calls Simon and James and John to leave everything behind and come follow him. And they do just that.

I have always found it amazing that Simon and the others just dropped everything they were doing, abandoned not only their fishing boats and nets which were tremendously valuable, for which they totally depended upon for life and sustenance, and left home, family and friends and followed this total stranger. They did it immediately. They never questioned or gave excuses, they did not look back, or give a list of reasons not to follow this man. They did not know who he was, what he was asking of them, where they were going, what their life would be like, how they would eat, where they would sleep. But they immediately left everything and followed him. There must have been something about the man Jesus standing in front of them which called them, demanded them, to follow him. They probably could not put it into words, they were just compelled to give up all and follow Jesus, to respond Yes to his call to them to follow him.

That same invitation, that same call Jesus gave to Simon and the others is given to us. Jesus offers us the same invitation to come, follow him. Do we hear that call, that invitation? Do we look at Jesus as Simon did and be amazed at this man before us? Do we follow him?

I think that we can be good at offering excuses to Jesus why we cannot follow him, “at least not right now, maybe later.” We say within ourselves “I will, eventually. But first I have a few things to do. I need to complete this task, I need to maybe do one or two other things. Then, I will follow you.” Perhaps we say we will live a better Christian life very soon, but first I must tell this one person off, I must do this or that thing which is really not too nice, but let me do it and then I will live a better Christian life, I will be a better follower of Jesus. What obstacles do we put up to prevent ourselves from leaving behind our old self and living the new life in Christ?

What are the excuses we find not to follow Christ? What are the things in our life that prevent us from being a better Christian? What are the things in our life which we use as the hindrance from following Christ more closely? What keeps us from being like the Apostles and immediately committing ourselves to Christ? When we are honest with ourselves we know what keeps us from living our faith more fully, we know what it is, but we just do not want to change.