The Call

Posted in: Homilies

February 10, 2019   Click on the left end of the black bar to play/pause

February 10, 2019
Luke 5: 1-11
Fr. George Smiga

Years later, as he approached his own death, Peter may have remembered his first meeting with Jesus in this way: “It was a discouraging day. We had worked all night and caught nothing. I knew that I would never be able to pay off the debt on my new boat with this kind of luck. As I stood there brooding over the empty nets, a man stepped into my boat. I knew who he was—the new Rabbi that everyone was talking about. He wanted to preach from my boat. It was a peculiar request. But since I had no fish to sell and was free that day, I obliged him.

“As I listened to his words, they moved me. I began to wonder whether his promise of a better word could be true. Could God indeed be acting to bring about the kingdom?’ It was the power of his words that led me to agree to his next request: to go in the deep water and lower my nets. I knew there were no fish to be caught in the lake that day. I was a fisherman. If we had worked all night and caught nothing, we certainly were not going to catch anything in the middle of the day. But, as I pulled my net out of the water filled with fish, I looked into his eyes and my heart stopped. Because in that moment, I realized what he wanted. He didn’t want my boat. He didn’t want the fish. He wanted me.

“I knew I couldn’t do it. I was a fisherman. I didn’t know the Torah the way he knew the Torah. I couldn’t speak the way he spoke. I often spoke too soon and embarrassed myself. I was weak and gave up on things when they became difficult. There was no way, no way that I could follow him. And I told him so. ‘Lord, depart from me for I am a sinful man.’ I am a weak man. I am an unreliable man. And then he said the words that changed my life. ‘I will make you a fisher of people.’ He was telling me that he would make me what I needed to be. I trusted him, and I left everything and followed him.

“I was still weak and sinful. I often misunderstood what he was teaching. I even denied him during his suffering. But, he was true to his word, and as often as I failed he was faithful. He made me what I needed to be. And now, as I look forward to my own death, I know that I will die as his disciple.”

On any particular day, Jesus can step into our boat and ask something new from us. And nine times out of ten, we will feel we can’t do it. We are not ready. The boss comes up to us and gives us two week’s notice. We say, “I can’t be unemployed. I have a mortgage and a family. At my age I can’t begin a new career.” Our spouse suffers a stroke and we become a care provider. We say, “I can’t do this. I’m not patient enough. I’m not strong enough to see the person I love so incapacitated.” We look at our body as it ages, and we realize that in 5, 10, 15 years, we will have to do less and depend more on others. We say, “I can’t do that. I know what it is to be happy being strong and healthy, but I have no idea how to be happy being old and dependent.”

In each one of these moments when we know that we are too weak, too unprepared, Jesus says to us what he said to Peter, “Don’t be afraid. I will make you what you need to be.” Then it all comes down to us. Will we trust him and say, “Yes.” If we do, like Peter, the road will not always be smooth, and we will fail often. But also, like Peter, we trust that Jesus will be true to his word and will change us.

When life turns on us in a new way, it can frighten us. But the good news is this: when Jesus steps into our boat, he does not intend to leave. He will stay with us until he makes us the person we need to be.

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