After a long while dearest friends I would like to share with you my meditations on Luke 5:1-11, which was the gospel reading in the Church two days ago. Actually I have written a reflection on this passage on this blog under the caption, The Virtues of a Fisherman, where we considered the virtues worth emulating, portrayed by the Holy Apostle during this event. We established that these virtues are actually important ones which a lot of us in our day need to acquire.
But taking a look at this passage once again I wish to share with us, quite a few other things. First, there is something about the boat. Over the years, spiritual reflection on this passage and on the entirety of scripture has come to see this boat as representing the Church, and there are a lot of things that tell us that right from this passage.
First we see that Jesus entered the boat ‘while the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God’. (Luke 5:1). This is very significant because that is exactly prophetic of Jesus founding his Church in order that he can teach and feed the people, to feed us with the Word of God, the words of Divine Wisdom, of truth and of Love that flowed from his sacred lips, but also to feed us Himself who is the ultimate and definitive Word of God (John 1:1), in the Eucharist. Secondly, we also see that it was none other’s but Simon’s boat which he entered to teach the People the Word of God. This is the same Simon whom he appointed Chief Steward over his Church in Matthew 16:16-18. There is therefore little wonder that after the huge catch was made, He told Simon Peter, ‘Do not be afraid, henceforth you will be catching men’. (Luke 5:10), a further illustration that the just concluded miracle was only a prototype for what Peter and the other Apostles were going to be doing for Jesus in the establishing, consolidating and peopling the Church of God, the new Kingdom of God, which Jesus came to found.
And so once this has already been established, there are certain things that should not go unnoticed in this story. First, in this little story, the mystery of the Church is glimpsed at, for in the Church, in Peter’s boat, though it is Peter’s boat, though it is Peter who evangelizes and catches the huge fish, It is really Christ who teaches in his Church. Luke himself helps us to expand on this when he writes in Luke 10:16 that Christ told his Apostles, ‘Whoever hears you, hears me’. Christ himself in commissioning the Apostles to go and teach all nations in Matthew 28 quickly adds that He will be with them till the end of the age. This is why St. Paul who had a mystical understanding of what the Church is, especially in it being the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12), and Christ being the head of that body (Col. 1:18), adds that the Church is ‘the pillar and foundation of the truth’.(1 Tim. 3:15). Such that in her teaching of faith and morals, and in teaching and feeding us with the Word of God, the Church is Christ for us, for it is Christ who teaches and feeds us.
Again, in Luke 5 verse 2 of the passage we see that Luke was careful to mention to us that the Lord saw Two boats by the lake, but he entered one, only one, Peter’s. This truth is especially important in our day, especially with the ongoing multiplicity of Churches and the accompanying Religious indifference sweeping through Christendom, despite the contradictions in faith and doctrine. There is only One Church of Christ, not two, but only one. That Church though spread across nations has one faith, and one baptism. (1 Cor. 1:10). This Church is that where Peter was first Shepherd and continues to be the divinely constituted steward of the flock in the Apostolicity of his successors. We even see in Luke 5:7, 10 that even the other Apostles, James and John were called too, but to Peter’s boat to help in the catch, such that gathered around Peter, the apostles became the foundation on which the Church is built. (Eph. 2:20).
But on another note we see something that happens in this encounter between Peter and the Lord. This is very important for us to know. In Luke 5:4-5 when the Lord asked Peter to set out into the deep for a catch, though Peter explained how they had been there all night and had caught nothing, he still does it again, but this time, at the Lord’s word. In fact, to quote St. Peter himself in verse 5, ‘Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.’ Dearest friends, as part of the Church and members of the body of Christ we are obliged like Peter to be fishers of men, to be evangelizers, bringing people closer to experience the Joy we have in us, to be part of the body of Christ and the Kingdom of God. Each one of us is to do Apostolate, Evangelization. And so I ask, how is your apostolate going? How is your evangelization going? Like Peter does it seem as though you have toiled all night and caught nothing? Don’t you think it is as a result of your not seeking or waiting for the Lord to give his word before you set out?
Peter set out into deep throughout the night and caught nothing; it was not at the Lord’s word. But when the Lord gave his word, there was a rich catch. It would be very beneficial to us to always put God first in our work of evangelization. Therefore the first step in evangelization is Prayer, presenting the person or people in question before the Lord, and patiently waiting for him to give his word. That way, we are going to be assured of a huge catch. We should also remember that it is the Lord who is the principal agent of evangelization for it is him who calls, and so in our work of evangelization, we are only offering ourselves as tools in his hands. Everything we do in order to get ready and appear convincing, everything we read and study are only but sharpening a tool for God to use at his own disposal. So let us like Peter seek the Lord’s face and set out into the deep at his word.
The good thing is on the long run, he has already given his word, he is telling you and I, especially those of us who feel we should not evangelize or who are afraid of the challenges, the Lord says to us ‘set out into the deep for a catch’. That way, the result would marvel us, and like Peter and the other apostles, we will be astonished. (Luke 5:9).
From your friend and brother: Chibuzor F. Ogamba