In the Lectionary

February 10, Epiphany 5C (Luke 5:1-11; Isaiah 6:1-8, 9-13)

Jesus calls Peter. But there's a catch.

My husband loves to mow the grass, because it’s satisfying to see the result. He loves to put things together—fences, landscaping projects, car mechanicals, computer hardware. For him, the end result is always guiding the work. Where I see a jumble of wood cuts and tools that surround him while he’s at work, he sees the beautiful finished product that these will become. What I see as a bunch of tiny screws and parts strewn on the garage floor, he sees as the working machine they will become. My husband is motivated by what he knows will be the culmination of his hard work.

I wonder how people like my husband would react if they were given instructions with no solid idea of the end result. What would happen if we were told exactly what to do, but not why?

In our reading from Luke this week, Jesus essentially calls Simon to a project without clear results. “Put out into the deep water,” he says, “and let down your nets for a catch.” There is no indication of what this catch will be. A good one? Just adequate, or abundant? A catch that feeds one family, or one that feeds a whole village? The call to Simon is clear and simple: put out your net. But the result is difficult to even imagine. A catch seems fairly impossible, given that the fishermen have already been fishing all night and have caught nothing. To cast nets again—this time in deep water, which most likely means a bit more work and time—does not seem promising.