September 4 - Thursday of the 22nd Week in Ordinary Time
“The crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to his word”. Isn’t that which we are called to do? He makes himself so easily available to us through his indwelling presence and by his presence in the Tabernacle. We have free access to him through faith.
Jesus was standing by the Lake Gennesaret (also called the Sea of Galilee or Tiberias). He could get away from the pressing crowd by getting into Simon’s boat. He could then sit, which was the usual position for teaching. We notice that it was in Simon’s boat that Jesus used. Already there is a special relationship developing between Jesus and Simon.
Jesus used Simon’s boat to teach the people about the Kingdom of God. It was after he had finished speaking the word of God that Jesus told Simon to “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch”. The word of God is like a net cast into the sea to gather people into the kingdom of grace and eternal life.
Simon was reluctant to start fishing again after an all night’s failure—which is the best time to catch fish. Out of sheer obedience to Jesus’ request Simon proceeded to lower his nets into the sea. To Simon’s great surprise his nets were immediately filled with a huge catch of fish—so much so that his nets were beginning to tear. So he called for help from his fishing partners, James and John. There were so many fish the men filled both boats so that they were in danger of sinking.
This was such a stupendous miracle that Simon Peter fell to his knees before Jesus. The contrast of having worked hard all night and caught nothing, with simply putting out into deep water in broad day light and catching such an abundance of fish was clearly a miracle beyond all expectation. Peter was in shock! He experienced the holiness of Jesus and fell at his feet. He did not feel worthy to be in his presence. He became aware of his own sinfulness. Clearly, Jesus had to have divine knowledge for him to be able to direct the fishermen to make such an unbelievable catch. “Depart from me, Lord,” Peter exclaimed, “for I am a sinful man”. He and his partners were seized with awe and astonishment over their surprise catch.
This catch, Jesus explained in so many words, was symbolical of the people he would gather into the Kingdom of salvation by his preaching (see Acts 2:41). We can see why these men, after experiencing something of the divine in Jesus, left everything to follow him.