Thursday, February 4, 2016

Homily at Holy Spirit Catholic Community, 5th Sunday in OT by Beverly Bingle, RCWP

Last week's passage from Luke's Gospel
saw Jesus rejected by the people of his home town,
with its population of 400,
and heading down to Capernaum,
with its population of 1,500.
Capernaum is about 20 miles away from Nazareth—
an easy day's walk.
In passages read on weekdays,
Luke has Jesus exorcising a demon in the synagogue,
curing Simon's mother-in-law of a fever,
and healing people sick with various diseases.
Then Jesus goes off to a deserted place,
but people follow him
and try to convince him to stay in Capernaum.
Instead he heads off to spread the good news
to the other towns of Judea,
and that's where today's Gospel passage picks up.
Luke says Jesus is standing by Lake Gennesaret,
the freshwater lake
that's called the Sea of Galilee by the other evangelists,
not quite four miles from Capernaum,
a little more than an hour's walk away.
A crowd has gathered by the lake to hear Jesus.
So he hops into Simon's boat and sits down—
the posture of the teacher in the Jewish tradition.
The miraculous catch of fish follows his teaching,
Luke's version of an event
that most scholars think
in some form or another
actually happened.
Mark and Matthew give the bare information
that Jesus told the disciples
they would be catching people instead of fish.
Luke expands the story
into the big catch and the call of the disciples.
John puts the catch after the resurrection, on the beach,
as a story of call to discipleship and sending on mission.
All four of the Gospels give evidence
that Jesus talked about fish a lot,
and he ate a lot of them,
and he passed them out to lots of people.
Many of the towns he walked to—
Capernaum, Bethsaida, Caesarea Philipi, Chorazin,
Scythopolis and Hippos in the Decapolis,
Jericho, Tyre, Sidon—
were on rivers, lakes, or the Mediterranean Sea.
By the time of this event,
Simon Peter would already have experienced Jesus
as an extraordinary person
through his experience of the teaching in the synagogue
and the exorcism
and the healing miracles.
The giant catch of fish puts Peter over the edge—
he leaves everything and follows Jesus.
People would have remembered
Peter talking about that important moment over the years.
People also remembered that Peter was not perfect.
He was an ordinary human being.
He worked hard as a business partner with James and John.
He was not part of the ruling class but one of the ruled
and would have, along with other Galilean Jews of the time,
chafed under Roman oppression.
He was impetuous,
sometimes mistaken,
prone to misunderstanding what Jesus was saying.
But more than anything,
people remembered that Peter's encounter with Jesus
dramatically changed his life.
In that same way,
our life experiences change us.
At some point we are compelled to change,
perhaps to follow the dream, like Isaiah;
or to see more clearly, like Paul;
or to leave a job, like Peter.
We remember a point
when we made an important choice.
And it happens to us
not just once
but over and over.
We are called.
Most of the calls we get are little ones,
choices we make almost automatically,
like smiling at a stranger
or helping a grandchild with homework.
They're like the call Peter got
to let his friend Jesus hop in his boat
and put out a short distance from the shore.
He could have said no
and kept on washing the nets.
And some of the calls are big ones,
like Peter's leaving everything behind and following Jesus.
We might answer a call to learn
that sends us off to college,
or a call to marriage and family,
a call to leave a well-paying job for a more meaningful one,
a call to volunteer for justice and peace.
Sometimes we misunderstand,
stumbling along the way like Peter did,
and take the wrong way for a while.
Then, like Peter, we turn ourselves around.
By the way we live,
by the choices we make in each circumstance,
our actions teach the Way of Jesus.
We are called to be disciples.
We become followers of the Way.
We become fishers of people.

Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.
Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
at 3925 West Central Avenue (Washington Church)

Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor
Mailing address: 3156 Doyle Street, Toledo, OH 43608-2006

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