Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing,
but at your command I will lower the nets.”
When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish
and their nets were tearing. -Luke 5:5-6
Upon first reading of today’s gospel passage, I’m thinking Luke left something very important out of the recipe or directions. Why does just doing as Jesus tells them, work? Is it timing? Does Jesus see something that wasn’t in the water while they were fishing all night? Is it magic? Maybe my unbelief comes from my own experience trying to fish. Fishing has never been my forte.
Maybe what is missing, is the focus. As Passionists we are taught and believe keeping alive the memory of the passion of Jesus, is the focus to life. What Luke and I and many of us don’t talk about is the fish giving their lives to these people, fishermen. Yes, it may seem that they have no other choice, just like Jesus who freely gives himself totally, even dying on the Cross seemed to have had no choice when confronted with his executioners. I believe that Jesus was God and he did have a choice. He chose to give himself. Do these fish in today’s scriptural passage have a choice? Of course not. They do however give their lives up to these fishermen. The basis of our daily ritual of the eucharist is to give thanks. Trying to understand this passage considering that, makes much more sense to me.
God, help me freely give myself to you today, without reservation. Help me also to say thanks, both as a regular ritual of saying “Grace” before I consume any of mother earth’s gifts and as a regular, maybe even daily ritual of going to Mass or Eucharist to say thanks to you.
Dan O’Donnell is a Passionist Partner and a longtime friend of the Passionists. He lives in Chicago.