Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Christ Calling the Apostles

Luke 5: 1-11

JESUS HAS EVERYONE'S ATTENTION IN THIS SCENE: Peter, who is in the water and the others who have their net in the Lake of Gennesaret. The boat is rather charming with its two masts and fancy bow and stern. Perhaps they are doing well as fisherman. In the background we see the hills surrounding the sea. Again, Jesus is in motion, stepping into the invitation to follow him. His right hand is blessing while his left hand holds the scroll of his teaching. We can easily place ourselves in this scene. Once you've done that, you've started meditating.

As Elijah was called from plowing fields,
so the first disciples were called from fishing.
Let us rejoice in our own divine calling,
responding to Jesus with courageous love.

These first disciples were prosperous fisherman,
not poor; not naive.
O Christ, impress upon me,
that to walk with you will exact some price.

The Lord stepped into Peter's boat as if were a pulpit
and sat down to teach the crowds on the shore.
O Jesus, my teacher, what word have you reserved for me today:
leading me from shadow to the joy of your light?

Jesus entered Peter's boat without introduction,
without explanation, then,
Put out a little from the shore.
Christ begins with small requests.

The Lord spoke with a strong voice
God's thundering over the waters.
Fishermen-like, catching souls
for the pre-eminence of love.

The Lord commanded Simon Peter and his friends:
Put out into the deep.
Take me who loves you , O Savior, from shallow living,
out into the depths of your presence, kingdom, love.

Here Christ is calling his first apostles:
the word means one who is sent.
Like twirling children, fallen in all directions:
to the hungry, the exploited, the children, the poor.

Overwhelmed by his unworthiness, Peter addressed Jesus
with the language of divinity, Master and Lord.
Then praise Christ who dispels fear,
and includes us in the work of spreading light.

Like Abraham and Sarah who left it all
these apostles at once abandoned everything for Christ.
Loosen my earthbound grip, O God,
that in new freedom, I might seek you.

At the Lord's instruction they caught so many fish
that their nets were at the breaking point.
But now, not fish but people, Christ says.
Oh, that we would understand humbly.*

*Fishers of men. Some people say, Oh it's just a metaphor. Translate: Oh it's not real. But metaphor doesn't mean something isn't real but rather, it's most real. Some things are beyond description and so we employ images that convey the very deepest, undisguised reality. That's what I mean when I speak of the underneath - looking beyond the obvious.

So when Jesus tells us we won't be catching fish but men, what's he saying? First of all, to be caught is bad for the fish, so the image can only be taken so far. But to catch men; catch women? Does this mean that we'll spread the doctrines of faith and people will be jumping into the net of the Church? I don't think so. That kind of thinking often gets devolved into resentment with those who don't jump in. Then it's us against them and we start calling people names like: pagans, lost, heretics, unbelievers. Wars follow. See the film Black Robe - how the 16th century French Jesuit missions failed here.

But to catch souls? Maybe to catch souls first by catching people in their imagination? Why does that Christian live that way? That someone would be intrigued by a lifestyle of no possessions, forgiveness, self-forgetting service to others, joy, welcoming-love for people as we find them, trust....

Oliver Wendall Holmes said, "I would have considered a calling to the ministry except that so many of the clergy resembled the undertaker." Well! Maybe some would say, "I would have considered becoming a Christian except so many of them are  racist, judgemental, cheating, un-generous, hateful, petty, on auto-pilot."

Brother Roger of Taize said, "Only when the Church becomes a land of simplicity and humility, will people come running."  Maybe the Christians have to be caught first.


  1. Dear Fr. Morris,
    I have been reading these posts every day. It is evident that you are very spiritual and reflective. I wish it were possible to hear one of your homilies. Maybe you can post them once in a while. It would be interesting to see how you address your congregation and reflect on the weekly readings.
    Thanks for this inspiration,

    1. Thanks for the request; I'll see what I can do.