We broke from tradition on Ash Wednesday to read the gospel from Luke 5 instead of the usual Matthew 6. Here’s the core passage:
Jesus said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.’… they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break… And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!’ … Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.’
Simon and friends fished all night and caught nothing. But following Jesus’ instruction, they catch enough fish to sink their boats. Simon declares his incompleteness, which Jesus turns into a commission for God’s work.
This is a core realization for being a disciple. We aren’t chosen because we’re somehow perfect for the task. Of course we want the world to run that way. We want competent doctors and plumbers and accountants and all manner of skilled persons. God’s mission is not about skill so much as heart.
This is a fine point. The more we engage in God’s mission, the more skills in working with people we develop. The starting point, as shown through Simon, is what scripture calls the contrite heart. This is the heart that becomes aware of its own limits – limits that have been self-imposed!
The ashes of Lent symbolize our willingness to look at these self-imposed limits on whom we are willing to extend our heart to. When Jesus calls Simon to discipleship in catching people, he calls him to love many more than he can imagine.
So it is with us, too, as we move beyond the ashes into God’s mission. Our hearts will be extended to many more than we can name today.
Grace and peace,
Pr. Russell Meyer