Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Don’t be afraid. From now on you will be catching people instead of fish.” Luke 5.10
The miraculous catch of fish in Sunday’s gospel moves Peter to a confusing response, “Leave me Lord. I am a sinful man.” Why should someone tell a teacher to leave when he or she has only begun learning what a teacher has to teach? Jesus seems to understand the fear of the community of faith, represented in Peter, a fear of learning too much and being asked too much.
Jesus commission Peter in this humbled state, “From now on, you will be catching people.” Peter knows future catches will come as the miraculous catch of fish has come, namely, in response to the word of God.
To what is God calling people today? To what are people responding?
One of the scribes asked Jesus which was the greatest of all the commandments.
Jesus answered, “The greatest of all the commandments is ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord your God is Lord alone. Therefore, love the Lord your God with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandments are greater than these.”
For Jesus, as for all good Jews, no religious obligation is more sacred than keeping the Law of Moses, the commands of the Torah, all 613 of them. The Pharisees saw this as an easy way to entrap Jesus—get him to pick one commandment as the greatest, then he accuse him of being soft on all the others.
But Jesus chooses wisely. He gives them, and gives us in a couple sentences his epitaph. It is his summation of what it’s all about, what the meaning of his whole life boils down to. Love God and your neighbor as yourself.
What might your epitaph be?