Unlikely Heroes

“Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men” (Luke 5:10)

“An Agamemnon finds his heroes, an Arthur his knights, Charlemagne his paladins, Napoleon his marshals. Jesus found among men of the people of Galilee, his apostles.” So Giovanni Papini summarizes the theme of the first days of Jesus’ ministry, gathering together a company of followers to join

him in turning the world upside down. The comparison is certainly apt in some ways: the apostles would become far renowned for their bravery; their words and deeds would shape generations to come. Yet surely these other master commanders must have used a different recruitment strategy.

Our gospel lesson takes us to the calling of Simon, the prince of the apostolic band, in the haze of a morning after a long and unsuccessful night fishing on the lake. Papini speculated that the long silences and patient faithfulness of the fisherman’s craft bred the natural virtues of an apostle. In Luke’s telling of the story, though, Simon seems more than a little impatient at Jesus’ command to push out and cast the nets again. Natural contemplative he may be, but Simon seems a bit peeved this morning at the landlubber whose insistence stands between him and his warm bed.

Yet he does obey Jesus, with only slight grumbling. And what a catch he finds! Simon is frightened — he knows a miracle when he sees one. “Be gone,” he tells Jesus, “I am a sinner, only a fisherman — no student of mysteries or prophets” “No,” Jesus says, “You must follow me, help me catch men.” Simon

has few qualifications, the first encounter paints him as more of a skeptic than a hero, and this will hardly be the first of his failings.

But Jesus will have him anyway. God chooses whomever he wills; his greatest heroes rarely have the proper qualifications. Just ask Gideon from our Old Testament lesson. He was another skeptic, and a coward besides. God’s angel found him threshing grain in the wine press — hiding it from the Midianites — and yet his courage would eventually send them running. Paul is telling his story in today’s epistle. He was least among the apostles, the persecutor made into the greatest evangelist.

Grace makes its own resume. God prepares those he calls. Never fear that you don’t have the gifts to fulfill the purpose God has designed for your life.

 

Look it Up

Gideon was not finished testing God – see Judges 6 and 7. Is his dependence on signs a strength or weakness in his leadership?

 

Think About It

Peter, Gideon and Paul all encountered God’s vocation while doing non-religious things. How might God be calling you in the midst of the ordinary tasks of your life?

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