Luke 5:1-11 (NRSV)
Chapter 5Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, Verse 2he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Verse 3He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. Verse 4When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch." Verse 5Simon answered, "Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets." Verse 6When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. Verse 7So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. Verse 8But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!" Verse 9For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; Verse 10and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people." Verse 11When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.
The story of Jesus calling his first disciples is a favorite for many, but it may also spook and challenge us. We note how these disciples leave everything behind to follow Jesus. Everything! Well, except their presence with one another. Jesus calls the disciples to this new adventure of "catching people," but he calls them as a community. The work of evangelism and discipleship cannot be done by one person alone. Why? Because it's hard! And because the community is strengthened by the collective experiences of those who join the group. Shared life stories matter. Individual gifts are reinforced by conversations and joint efforts. Weaknesses and fears can be overcome through mutual support and understanding. To "catch people" requires being in relationship.
In responding to Jesus' call to "catch people," we are promised the gift of community—that no matter what comes our way, we are not alone.
God, your call to us is clear. Draw us toward one another in compassion and love so that we may strengthen your community and give witness to your promise. Amen.