Sunday Homilies
Reflection by Rev. Fr. George Kolleril - Catching a Fisherman
Reflection by Rev. Fr. George Kolleril - Catching a Fisherman

Catching a Fisherman
When Peter went fishing that evening, he could never have imagined that his life was going to be changed forever.  Though he had toiled the whole night (Lk 5:5), he had nothing but an empty net to show.  Perhaps Peter was not a person who got disappointed fast.  He could clean his net.  There will be another night, another try, and with better luck a good catch.  It can be safely assumed that Peter did not mind lending his boat to the teacher who had become famous as one who taught with authority.  Did he know Jesus already?  C. Bernard Ruffin in his book The Twelve: The Lives of the Apostles after Calvary,gives us to understand that this was not Peter’s first meeting with Jesus.  He says to the effect that the first meeting between the two took place the way we find it explained in Jn 1: 42.  But then in the first chapter of John we have no words attributed to Peter; whereas in the gospel passage we are reflecting on we hear Peter speaking twice.
It does not matter if we can accept the conclusion arrived at by Ruffin.  It does not matter whether Peter had known Jesus already.  On that day Peter would have, in all probability, lent his boat to anyone for some time because he did not immediately need it.
We do not know if Peter paid any attention to what Jesus told the people while sitting in the boat a little away from the shore.  But he did pay heed to the suggestion of the carpenter from Nazareth:  “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.”  There was power and authority in the suggestion.  Or was it a command?  The net was to be let down for a catch and not for another try.  Peter did not protest saying, “I’ve already washed the net clean”.   What he said was, “If you say so, I will let down the nets.”  Of course, before expressing his acquiescence he let the Lord know of his disappointment:  “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing.”
What we can know from the gospel account is that Peter was a wise man.  He already knew the difference between luck and providence.  He knew that the huge catch could not be explained away as a chance event.  His simple reason told him that one who had power over rivers and seas and the creatures in them had to be Lord.  And God’s generosity to any human has to be a great event.  As one who notices the faintest stain on a pure white background, in a flash Peter put his soul before the Lord.  And then he could not but sink to his knees.  The words he uttered were but a cry that rose from his heart:  “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!”  This response (I don’t think, it was a reaction) is indeed reminiscent of Isaiah’s response (Is. 6:5).
Awareness of sin can lead either to positive action or to negative withdrawal.  Many do experience a feeling of unworthiness; but all do not respond in a positive way.  Some avoid sacraments, some stop going to Church.  Some allow their hearts to be further hardened.  But there are also many who sink to their knees in the confessional.
What is interesting is the way Jesus responded.  His action is just like that of the father in the parable of the prodigal son.  In the parable, the father seems not to have heard the confession of his once wayward son.  He just gave instructions for his life from that moment on (Lk. 15: 22-24).  Now Jesus too did not say anything directly regarding Peter’s confession.  He told him what he wanted from that moment on:  “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.”  First the Lord took Peter’s boat.  Then he took Peter himself.  He had come for him!
We know what happened then.  Before Peter was the biggest catch of his life.  It was a fortune for him, who till then was so ordinary.  We do not know if Peter threw a glance at his net that was on the breaking point.  We do not know if he looked again at his boat.  He just followed the Lord.  Years later, St Paul expressed the feeling of Peter and every disciple (including Paul himself) who followed the Lord without counting the cost:  “I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil 3:8).
What St Luke wants to say is that all of us are called just as Peter was.  We have to identify ourselves with this great apostle.  Peter was so ordinary, not rich, not that successful even as a fisherman.  He succeeds only when he obeys Jesus.  Obeying the Lord can be very rewarding.  That is the way to success in Christian life.

Reflection by Rev. Fr. George Kolleril - Rejection at Nazareth
Reflection by Rev. Fr. George Kolleril - Baptism of the Lord
Reflection by Rev. Fr. George Kolleril - Epiphany
Reflection by Rev. Fr. George Kolleril - Holy Family
Reflection by Rev. Fr. George Kolleril - Contemplating the Crib
Reflection by Rev. Fr. George Kolleril - Third Sunday of Advent
Reflection by Rev. Fr. George Kolleril - Second Sunday of Advent
Reflection by Rev. Fr. George Kolleril - First Sunday of Advent