Usha and Mercy
Kisumu - Kenya


NO 1 January 2006
Scripture reading: Luke 5: 1-15


The time that we spend working is the most important part of the day for many of us. Our work tells others who we are and gives meaning to our lives. For those who work in leprosy, work is really hard and challenging. Some work in isolated places where the stigma of leprosy and the isolation caused by it is very real. Others work in difficult areas - cold mountains, or dry, barren, hot places, far from good schools for children and amenities for families. We do the same boring job day in, day out, for little pay and recognition. Sometimes the promotion we have worked so hard for is given to someone else; or we may face a difficult boss or unfriendly colleagues; or a good idea we may have had was rejected. When we have been through situations like these, we lose the enthusiasm we once had. Work and our lives then become boring and meaningless.

When the work that we do stops giving meaning to our lives, we ask ourselves, “ What am I here for?” “ What difference does it make if I do this job or not?” When we feel like this, our work becomes sloppy and careless. We have no heart for our work. Time away from work spots gets longer and longer. However much we dislike our work, we know that we cannot walk away from it……… our families will starve, we will lose our identity and self esteem as a working person. Frustration and anger builds up within us as we know that this is what we have to do for the rest of our lives.


It is at this point that our scripture reading begins to make sense to us. We see the fishermen Simon, James and John, standing at the shore, exhausted and annoyed that they had not caught any fish. They probably just wanted to go home and sleep, but they still had to clean and mend their nets. Work for them was hard. Their lives were rough, unpredictable and dangerous. Sometimes like today, it was useless; at other times there would be plenty of excitement. Their work defined them and gave them a name and status – Simon the fisherman; James and John, sons of Zebedee the fisherman. Work also gave them a place in the community.

When Jesus came to them, he saw how tired and fed up they were. They had nothing to sell or to take home to their hungry families. Their work had not given them much pleasure that day and it must have shown on their faces. “ Why are we doing this?” they must have thought. Perhaps they might even have wished that there was another way in which they could earn their living. It was at this low point that Jesus met them.

“ Push your boats further and let down your nets,” he says to them. “ Do it again, in the same place, in the same way, only this time I will be with you.” Perhaps the tone of Jesus’ voice, or the mysterious way in which he seemed to know something that they didn’t, made Simon obey Jesus’ command. This time the net was suddenly full and they needed help to pull it in. Simon’s response was to ask Jesus to go away, for he was a sinful man. Then he hears Jesus say, “ Don’t be afraid. It’s OK. I will be a part of all this. I will work with you, and instead of you catching fish, and selling it to others, you will now work with me. I work serving others, and from now on, you too will serve others with me.” Simon, James and John left their boats and followed Jesus from then on. Their lives became lives of service to Jesus and to others they met, as they journeyed with Jesus.


Close your eyes and see yourself on a day when you ask, “ Why am I here?” In front of you stands Jesus, asking you to do the same thing again, – it may be taking blood, cleaning an ulcer, giving tablets, writing a report or cycling miles to enter data on a chart. You really are fed up, but you do what Jesus tells you to do, because of the story you have just heard, and because something about Jesus makes you trust him. So you do the thing you have just done, again, this time knowing that Jesus is doing it with you. This time something happens to you. You still have blood to take from a patient, or shoes to mend, or meals to cook, or floors to clean, or dressings to do. You may have done this job 365 times before, but now, Jesus takes over and works through you. You reassure the patient in a way you have never done before. Perhaps you joke and laugh. The patient is smiling. The floor is cleaner, the food tastes better, the chappals fit better and the nurses are smiling happily too. Just as Jesus showed Simon, James and John how their work could change when he is with them, he has shown you too how to make your work more meaningful. Meaning in our work and in our lives comes when we serve others through our work, however humble that work may be, because we know that Jesus is with us, doing the same things we do.

Just as Jesus called Simon, James and John to follow him and heal the sick and care for the poor, he asks each one of us to follow him and do the things he did too.


  • In what ways does your work define who you are and give you some kind of status? Who are you? I am……
  • Have you ever been fed up and wondered, “ Why am I here?” When did you feel this way?
  • Have you ever wished to be somewhere else, doing something different? Is this possible?
  • What about your work makes you feel dejected? What about your work makes you happy?


Lord, at this time when so many people have no work,
we thank you for work that you have given us.
Work that makes other people’s lives better,
and provides for us too.
Help us to see our work not just as a way of earning money to pay our bills,
but as a way of serving you and those who suffer.
When we feel the burden of work falling heavily on us,
help us to see you standing beside us,
telling us not to be afraid.
At such times, help us to go forward with faith in your name.

{ 100 words }

USHA JESUDASAN - ushajesudasan@gmail.com

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