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A Practical Commentary On Holy Scripture by Frederick Justus Knecht D.D.

[Luke 5:1–11. Mat. 4:18–22. Mark. 1:16–20]

JESUS preached one day near the Lake of Genesareth, which is also called the Sea of Galilee. A great crowd came to Him to hear the word of God. He saw moored on the shore two fishing-boats, one of which belonged to Simon Peter; and, going into Peter’s boat, He desired him to put off a little from the shore. Then, seating Himself in the bark, He taught the people.

When he had ceased preaching, He told Peter: “Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.” Peter answered: “Master, we have laboured all night and have taken nothing, but at Thy word I will let down the nets.” Having done so, they caught so great a multitude of fish that their net was breaking. They beckoned to their partners, James and John, who were in the other bark, to come and assist them. They came, and both barks were so filled with fish that they were in danger of sinking.

 

Fig. 71. Lake of Genesareth with the Ruins of Tiberias. (Phot. Bonfils.)

Wonder and terror came upon all that were in the ships. But Simon Peter fell down at the feet of Jesus, saying: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” Jesus said to him: “Fear not, from henceforth thou shalt catch men.” Having pushed their ships ashore, they left all things and followed Jesus.

The Divinity of our Lord. Jesus, by the miraculous draught of fish which He procured for His disciples, showed that He was Lord over nature. The fish of the sea obeyed His will and gathered together in the place where the disciples cast in their nets.

The object of this miracle which Jesus worked solely for Peter and the other disciples was twofold: 1. Like all the other miracles it was meant to increase and confirm the faith of the disciples; 2. it was meant to prepare the disciples, and especially St. Peter, for the apostolic office, which was typified by this miracle. Through it Jesus meant to say to His disciples: “Even as just now you put out to sea and cast in your nets, at my bidding, and captured this extraordinary draught, so in the future shall you fish for the souls of men in the sea of this world; and you will have as great a success in that office as you have had just now with your nets, and will bring thousands of souls into the kingdom of God, i. e. the Church.” Thus the miraculous draught of fish typifies the apostolic work of the Church of Jesus Christ. The sea is the world; the fish are the men living in the world. The bark is the Church; the helmsman is Peter (and his successors). He steers the bark, and with the help of his companions (the Apostles, and after them the Bishops), casts his net by preaching the doctrine of Christ, and by holy Baptism receives into the Church those who will believe. Our Lord Jesus Christ is in the bark of Peter, i. e. in the holy Catholic Church, teaching men, and bringing them to salvation through her. The danger of sinking which threatened Peter’s little ship, signifies that the Church will be beset, by many perils and persecutions. The rent in the net, through which so many of the fish escaped, means that many souls will be lost to the Church by schism and heresy. The first “draught of fish” (i. e. of souls) which Peter made on the day of Pentecost, was an extraordinay one, 3000 being baptized. And after his second discourse, when he had cured the lame man, the number of those baptized amounted to 5000. The conversion of the world by ignorant fishermen is one of God’s greatest miracles. To this very day the Pope, St. Peter’s successor, keeps sending forth his fishermen into all parts of the world, in as much as he alone gives real power and jurisdiction to bishops, priests, and missionaries to teach the truth of Jesus Christ and to sanctify souls by His Sacraments.

Listening to the word of God. The way that the crowd pressed round Jesus to hear Him is an example to us of the zeal, with which we should listen to God’s word.

Industry. “We have toiled all the night”, said St. Peter. Industry is a virtue, whereas sloth is a sin.

The Blessing of God. In all our occupations we should bear in mind that nothing can prosper without God’s blessing.

St. Peter’s virtues, as shown by this story: 1. Faith. He believed that he would not put out to sea in vain, if he did so at our Lord’s bidding. 2. Obedience. 3. Humility. “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” Because he humbled himself, our Lord exalted him, and called him, before the others, to be a fisher of men. 4. Love of Jesus. He left all and followed Him.

The following of Christ is the way of virtue and perfection. We need not forsake everything as did the Apostles, but we must follow the example given to us by our Lord, if we would be with them in heaven. “Christ also suffered for us, leaving you an example that you should follow His steps” (1 Pet. 2:21). He who wishes to be a real Christian must not only believe in Christ, but must follow Him, i. e. must imitate His virtues, His love of God and of His neighbour, His obedience, humility, meekness &c.

APPLICATION. Do you like work? Do you learn your lessons well and regularly? Do you help without grumbling in the work about the house given you to do by your parents? Do you work with a good intention? Whenever you are told to do anything distasteful to you, say to yourself: “O Jesus, I will do this for love of Thee!”








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