HomeIgnatian PrayerZebedee: Still Fishing

Zebedee: Still Fishing

miraculous catch of fish - ZU_09/Digital Vision/Getty Images

This story is inspired by Luke 5:1–11.

When my sons dropped everything to accept Jesus’ invitation, I knew my boys would serve him well. They deserve the nickname Jesus gave them: “Sons of Thunder.”

God wants the best from us. And sometimes it hurts to give it.

In my case, it was the best people in my workforce. I gave Jesus my sons when he called. No, that’s not true. They were never mine to give.

I wondered, Why didn’t Jesus choose me for a high-profile job in his messianic mission? I’m not that old. Maybe I was jealous. OK, I’m not as strong and fiery as my sons, but I have the wisdom of age. Why was I passed over?

Children are tremendous gifts. My sons are excellent fisherman—strong, resilient, dependable, and hard-working. I thought they would take over my business. Now my future was uncertain. I wondered if I would ever retire.

The day after he called my sons, Jesus came back to see me. He greeted me, “Hello again.” Yes, Jesus and I already knew each other. Jesus had a place in Capernaum and was a well-respected craftsman. He repaired my friend’s boat so it was better than new.

I acknowledged his presence and kept mending my nets. My workload had tripled overnight.

“How are you?” He asked simply.

I was brooding and full of conflicting emotions. He waited silently, just looking at me.

At last I said, “God takes away my expectations. God gives what I don’t want to receive.”

“You had other plans,” Jesus concurred. “Can I sit beside you?”

I nodded, and he sat down at my eye level. Again he waited. So patient was this man!

I inhaled deeply. “Where is my place in your plan? Aren’t I supposed to be doing something great for God? For you? Why am I still fishing? This job is second nature and requires little thought. Isn’t there something more?”

The way Jesus looked at me, I not only felt heard, but understood.

“Jesus, I want to go out and change the world! I know you are the Messiah, and I want to join you to fix what’s broken in this country. So much needs mending. There must be more than these nets.”

He was really listening, so I continued. “I heard you tell my sons that they would fish for people. That sounds exciting. I want to do that too. Instead, I’m left to this business, to hire new help, and…” My voice trailed off. I could feel something shift as we were in conversation.

“Zebedee.” I loved how he said my name. “Zebedee, I didn’t come into the world to immediately fix the world. I have a much larger plan. And you are a part of it.” He looked at me with love.

“I need you to keep fishing,” Jesus said. “What you do is valuable and significant. It fits perfectly into God’s big picture.”

I felt consoled, and my heart’s eyes opened. Families need nourishment. Somebody has to do the less-visible jobs. And I love sitting quietly on the boat and listening to the waves as we work the nets. Fishing is what I am meant to do.

I’m not going to be an Apostle witnessing amazing healings and hearing astounding teachings directly from Jesus. I’ll never be famous or start new ministries. I continue speaking with God living within. Listening in the silence, I know that God is with me.

And so I am grateful. I love that I am still fishing.

Loretta Pehanich
Loretta Pehanich
Loretta Pehanich is a Catholic freelance writer and the author of 2022: A Book of Grace-Filled Days, Women in Conversation: Stand Up!, and Fleeting Moments: Praying When You Are Too Busy. A spiritual director since 2012, Loretta is trained in giving the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Her involvement in ministry and parish life includes 20 years in small faith-sharing groups and Christian Life Community. Loretta gives retreats and presentations on prayer and women’s spirituality and is commissioned as an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist. She and her husband Steve have four children and 10 grandchildren.


  1. Thank you Loretta. I was thinking just like Zebedee. Why does God need me only for the mundane things. Your article gave me much consolation. God needs someone for these jobs too. I shall continue with greater zeal now and talk to God just like Zebedee did.

  2. Once again you have not only touched my heart but opened my eyes as well. Thank you! Your reflections always invite me into the Gospel and provide meat for my meditation. Please continue. I am grateful.

    • I heard from someone that she was wondering how Zebedee’s wife reacted when she heard the news. We have so many ways to respond to God’s call as we witness it in others. Thanks for taking the time to reply.

  3. This is beautiful
    The reaction and tenderness of Jesus to zebidee
    Thank you for this
    I will sit with Jesus as I’m a bit like zebidee at the minute

  4. Thank you, Loretta, for a lovely story that reminds me that even seemingly mundane tasks are still important in God’s plan. We each have our role to play.

  5. Thank you, Loretta. I believe this is a situation many people face at the so called “change-of-life” stage. It is good to understand who control of our lives at all stages of life.

  6. Thank you!!! I had never looked at things through the eyes of Zebedee. Turns out that I have more in common with him than I thought


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