How do people react when God calls? Let’s look at one example from the Old Testament, Moses, and one example from the New Testament, Zechariah, and see how they compare with the call of Peter and the other three disciples in today’s Gospel (Luke 5:1-11). Today’s Gospel passage is a miracle story with the call coming at the end.
Firstly the person is approached by God or his messenger. Moses sees the burning bush, goes to investigate and God says to come no nearer (Ex 3:1-6). The angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah (Luke 1:11) and Jesus got into Simon’s boat (Luke 5:3).
Secondly the vocational message is given. God tells Moses he is sending him to Pharaoh to bring his people out of Egypt (Ex 3:10). Zechariah is told his wife will bear a son (Luke 1:13) and Peter is told to put out into deep water (Luke 5:4). In today’s Gospel passage, the vocation to be fishers of men comes at the end (Luke 5:10).
Thirdly the person receiving God’s call objects. Moses said to God, “Who am I to go to Pharaoh…?” (Ex 3:11) Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” (Luke 1:18) Peter said, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.” (Luke 5:5)
In response to the objection or questioning or doubt, God or his messenger gives a sign or reassurance. God tells Moses that his brother Aaron will be his mouthpiece (Ex 4:16). Zechariah is struck dumb (Luke 1:20) and Peter witnesses the miraculous catch of fish. Then comes the call or vocation after the miracle in today’s Gospel; Jesus said, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” (Luke 5:10)
Finally the person who is called responds. Moses returned to Egypt (Ex 4:20). Zechariah completed his days of ministry, went home and his wife conceived (Luke 1:23-24). Peter and the others brought their boats back to land, left everything and followed Jesus. (Luke 5:11)
There are many more vocation stories in the Scriptures and when we compare them many have the same elements in common. It is beneficial to compare ourselves and our response to God’s call with the vocation stories in Scripture, concentrating on our response.
Are we objecting to God’s call, resisting God’s call to us, blocking God? Are we sensitive to God’s signs and reassurances to us or are we trying God’s patience by not saying “Yes” after God reassures us?” Or have we arrived at the final stage of surrendering to God and saying “Yes” and leaving everything to follow him and renew that surrender daily.
For Moses, Zechariah and Peter as for us, saying “Yes” to God means thinking beyond the limits the world puts on us or we put on ourselves and not being overcome by our weaknesses but relying on God’s strength. As is stated in the first reading today (Year 2), we do not boast in anything human but we belong to Christ and Christ to God (1 Cor 3:21,23). Let us allow our thinking and responses to be shaped and formed so that we can arrive at the stage of totally surrendering to God and answering his call to us fully.