Reflection on This Week’s Readings


Fishing requires patience, as Simon’s words in today’s gospel reflect: “We have worked all night long but have caught nothing” (Luke 5:5). Imagine that long night, full of silences and frustrations as nets are cast and recast, first in one place and then in another and another. Maybe these words evoke a period of long waiting in your life or something you are experiencing right now. Waiting is hard and can feel doubly so when it is marked by repeated failed attempts at something.

So, when Jesus calls his new disciples to fish for people, he is both warning them of the challenge ahead and assuring them that they are well practiced in the patience it will take. Life as a disciple is no less challenging than the rest of our lives, yet sometimes in the church we expect quicker results with less effort. The word evangelism itself often evokes the image of a brief encounter, where a direct and focused witness leads to a quick conversion. But today’s gospel points to a different reality. Jesus calls us to be present with others, to stay by them through long days and long nights, and to cast love in many directions. When we build true and deep relationships, God will choose the right moment, like Jesus does in the gospel, to tell us when and where to drop our nets with a word of witness to the God we have come to know.

Jesus invites his disciples, including us, into a long journey with him. He calls us not to be members of a club, numbers in an attendance count, or dollars for the budget. Rather, Christ sends us to catch others up into God’s activity in the world, into the story of Jesus Christ, into lives as disciples. In worship today, let yourself be caught up into God’s grace. Then go forth to patiently cast lines of hope to those around you.




Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany
Throughout the standard Sundays of the year, the gospel stories of the manifestation of Jesus as Lord and Christ can be tamed into mere tales of a miracle worker. But with all the biblical resonances sounding forth, they testify that Jesus is God incarnate, Creator of even the seas who calls us to radically altered lives.
We are now the crowd gathered to hear Jesus, the Word of God. We look to Jesus when we are in need. We kneel before Christ to confess our sinfulness. We are called to catch people. Luke’s positive portrayal of the early Christian community is evident in his claim that the disciples “left everything and followed Jesus,” and it supports the proposal that the Jesus’ movement was an itinerant, perhaps unemployed and homeless, group awaiting the eschaton. What does this mean for us?
The call narrative of Isaiah is set next to Luke 5 because both Isaiah and Peter experience the power of the Almighty, confess their sinfulness, and are sent to do the work of God. Such a pairing of an Old Testament with a New Testament passage exemplifies the similarities throughout the Bible. Thus can Paul say that Christ was raised in accordance with the Hebrew Scriptures.
Having heard the story of the call of Isaiah, we respond with the text of the psalm placing us in the temple along with Isaiah. Now we praise God’s steadfast love, and as if we see the armies of Assyria and Babylon on our borders, we anticipate God’s protection from all our enemies.
Every Sunday is Easter, the Christian celebration of the resurrection. This text is also an option for Easter Day Year B. We are now those who experience the presence of the risen Christ. We are who we are by the grace of God.


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New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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