Each and every human being is a fisherman. Does that mean that we each go out into a boat everyday and return home in the evening stinking of fish? No. We aren’t literal fishermen. But we each spend our day sweating, toiling, laboring in order to catch things. A mother tries to catch her child who is running all over the house. A student tries to catch good grades. We find ways to try to “catch” our income or daily living.
In today’s passage we find that the disciples catch the biggest fish of them all. But catch isn’t quite the right word. Imagine that the biggest fish in the world actually jumped right into your boat! That is exactly what happened to these disciples. They were out in their fishing boats, cleaning their nets and preparing to rest. They were frustrated and tired after a long evening with no success. All of the sudden, out of nowhere, the Lord Jesus Christ gets into one of their boats, uninvited! Not only does the Lord enter the boat but He begins to give orders like a seasoned fisherman. Imagine the boldness! These men had been out all night. If you or I had been in a similar situation we would’ve thought strongly about throwing the person who was giving us orders overboard. But when the Lord Jesus presented them with a difficult task, they complained and then they obeyed. Again and again we see that God leaves us with freedom. Freedom is His gift to us, and He loves us and wants us to choose to obey. The disciples could’ve said “NO”. They could’ve gotten angry and been a bit defiant. They ended up obeying.
We find that the Lord’s teachings can be so difficult at times. I don’t want to love my neighbor. I don’t want to listen to the problems of others. I don’t want to spend quality time with my family. I don’t want to confess my sins. I don’t want to pray. Mother Theresa of Calcutta was once teaching about loving your spouse and a lady interrupted her and said “Mother, that’s easy for you to say because you’re not married.” Mother Theresa turned to her and said “my dear, I am married to Jesus and there are days when that is very difficult because He can be very demanding.”
I don’t want to follow the Lord at times, but then I remember that He doesn’t demand things of me in order to benefit Himself. He isn’t trying to make us suffer. He is trying to teach us and give us a true experience of the kingdom of God. He is trying to help us. Think about it, if the disciples had said “No”, what would the Lord have lost? But think now about what the disciples would’ve lost…..They would’ve lost the greatest catch of fish they would ever receive. They would’ve lost the chance to see an amazing miracle. They would’ve probably have lost the invitation to become disciples of the Lord Jesus. When we ignore or disobey the teachings of the Lord, we find that we are the ones who lose. Imagine how many opportunities and blessings we miss when we run away or ignore the challenges that God puts before us.
We have to reorient ourselves.
Instead of thinking “Why should I trouble myself?” or “Why should I suffer, when I can live in comfort?” I might instead say to myself “what miracle is the Lord wanting to do in my life?” or “what blessings am I going to miss if I refuse this opportunity?”
The Lord Jesus stands in our boat and looks at each of us directly and says “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” We have no idea what will get caught in that net unless we first put the net down into the water, unless we say with St. Peter “at Thy word I will let down the nets.”
That is the whole spiritual life in a nutshell….to love and obey Jesus Christ and to row further and further from the shore, further than you are comfortable going, further than you feel you can handle. And when you’ve gone so far you throw out your net into the deep water without any idea of what you might catch or what you should expect. After we go through this amazing experience of trusting God with some of the little things in our life, we find that we become like Peter who was shocked and overwhelmed and asked Jesus to depart from him because he wasn’t worthy to be near the Lord. If we obey like Peter we will also be amazed by God’s love and His care and we will really begin to feel that we are not worthy of all the kindness and mercy God has on us.
But all this requires us to row out and put our nets out into the deep;to pray when we feel lazy,to forgive others who have offended us, to pray for those who speak badly of us, to be patient to those who trouble us, to help those who use us, to visit the poor and the sick, to help those who can’t help themselves, to love those who seem impossible to love, to trust God when things don’t look so good, to give credit to God when things are really good, to speak to others about the love that God has for you and to invite others to holy His Church.
Every one of these actions is humanly impossible. It is the Lord who gives us the strength to do them and He even multiplies the simple actions that we take to produce much more fruit than we can imagine. May God give us the obedient heart of Peter and help us to say “at Thy word I will let down the nets”…..and glory be to God. AMEN.