Gennesaret, Catching Men, The Jesus Boat and Me

Lake of Gennesaret, January 2012

Today was one of those days when I sat in Mass listening to my pastor proclaim and preach upon the gospel message from Luke 5:1-11 with tears streaming down my face and a recent memory in my heart.

The cause for my emotions? A dual, visceral reaction to both my pastor’s eloquent homily and my very recent memory of standing in the very scene of today’s gospel: the Lake of Gennesaret. Before my trip to Israel last January, my knowledge of that region was incredibly limited, and I’d never really heard the “Sea of Galilee” called by it’s alternative name. In my Southern California-raised mind, “sea” equals “ocean”, and “ocean” equals “surfing”.

So for the first 48 years of my life, I always mentally pictured Jesus’ happenings in and around Galilee as though they’d happened in the waves of Huntington Beach or Newport — a far cry from the serene, lake-like environment I experienced the day we went out cruising on the Lake of Gennesaret.

The Jesus Boat

Something else I encountered that day was a firsthand, up-close look at the “Jesus Boat“, a recent first century nautical discovery unearthed from that very region, and more than likely representative of the boat in today’s passage from Luke. A newly released film on the boat and its place in time is on its way to me for review — I’ll be sharing that soon. For today, I want to share with you a few of the thoughts my pastor, Msgr. Rob Wenzinger, preached on at Mass this morning. I tease Msgr. Rob regularly about being his biggest fan… he never ceases to draw beautiful, relevant meaning from scripture.

Today, he shared with us that this particular passage is one of his personal favorites, and that he finds its placement as our last Sunday gospel prior to Lent to be particularly relevant. In the gospel, we find Jesus intentionally approaching a group of fishermen and asking them to put out into the lake. After a series of miraculous events on the lake, we find Simon Peter, James and John intentionally leaving their homes and livelihoods to follow Jesus. Msgr. Rob likened their bold actions to those of our Candidates and Catechumens in RCIA readying themselves to receive their sacraments of initiation this Easter. For many of them, the decision to follow Christ and his Church separates them from their “comfort zones”, including the fact that a few of them will leave behind family ties with those who don’t understand or blatantly disagree with their faith decisions.

Lisa on the Sea of Galilee

Monsignor reminded those of us in the pews that we too are called to this total conversion, to a leaving of our security and the things we hold most dear to follow Christ completely. Today, I sat asking myself, “Is that me? Am I ready to leave everything to follow him? Or do I simply take along my baggage and enjoy the parts of the journey that fit my desires and preferences? Is my heart passionate for and fully devoted to the catching of souls for the Lord?”

I know the answers to those queries in my heart, and they fuel me for the spiritual evolution that needs to be accomplished in the Lenten season ahead. I’d like to get a lot closer to answering those questions as the disciples did.

I have a lot of work to do to get there…


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About Lisa M. Hendey

Lisa Hendey is the founder and webmaster of and the author of The Grace of YesA Book of Saints for Catholic Moms and The Handbook for Catholic Moms. Lisa writes for several online and print publications, enjoys speaking around the country and is a frequent television and radio guest and host. Visit her at and connect with her at Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram.

  • John Butcher

    Hi Lisa,
    Thanks for your post. Listening to the readings at Mass I try to understand the situations and environment that would have existed at the time. I went through that exercise again today. I blame this on a Bible study class here in the LA area that I had the good fortune to be in some years ago. :-) We had the opportunity to listen, read, to discover the personal way the Word is presented, and to understand life at that time. It has helped me to help understand. Here at St Bridget’s our Fr Paul’s homilies are equally spiritual, educational, and personally challenging. Today, I also asked myself is that me? I think we have answered “here I am, send me” because we wouldn’t be doing what we are doing in our Parishes and your outreach via your social media connections. Thanks for sharing every day. – John

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    • erin

      I think I quoted it wrong, I think it was “TRUST IN who I am, I have come to set you free…” but I’m relying only on memory from 4th grade. Gosh, how I wish someone was singing those songs with my kids in school Mass. But that’s a whole ‘nother topic. Maybe after Ad goes to college you could come to Chicago once a month and lead a guitar Mass with good old fashioned songs and hymns for the Catholic grade school kids to learn.

      By the way, speaking of a whole ‘nother topic: I FINALLY saw Les Miserables! Dave and I saw it on Saturday (which you know is a big thing for us to get to see a movie). I both understand why Mom didn’t like it, or thought it was depressing, and why Daddy loved it. I thought it was AMAZING. The end was INCREDIBLE. But I’m a Les Mis fan in general. I agree with Mom, though, it was a bit hard to watch. Especially “Master of the House” and the sewer scenes, not to mention every single bit of Fantine. But, again, the end was perfect, I thought. All in all, best picture material.

      Oops, sorry to stray from the topic…

      • Lisa M. Hendey

        You can feel free to stray. It’s that kind of day…
        And for the record, I still think Mom was wrong about Les Mis. And that guitar thing? Um… no!
        I’ll come for a month, but wouldn’t want my Godson to get kicked out of school.

  • Erin

    Remember: “you’ve got to give all you have if you want to get to Heaven. Remember what I am, I have come to set you free. Your days are but a few, but there’s so much you can accomplish. So sell what you have, give your money to the poor, and come on, yes come on, come follow me!” (Picture Sr. Collette leading the guitars and the singing.)