Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.
When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink.
But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
I like animals. I’ve gotten very close to some in my life, and the affection of a pet is a wonderful and unforgettable experience. Animals have natures which they are bound to follow. It is the rare pet that will pass up a treat, and even rarer is the pet that will say: “I’ve given that up for Lent.”
Humans are different. We are made to share the life of God, but in our freedom we can reject that highest destiny and become far worse than the beasts. All humans are wounded by original sin, and, sooner or later, all humans find it hard to live with others because of those wounds: our own, those others inflict on us, those we inflict on others. How often we hear people say they prefer animals to people! Without grace—without God reaching into our world—we are lost, and things will only get worse. How much safer to relate to a pet who will always respond as nature dictates.
Yet God has not abandoned man, and has sent His Son into the human mess to model man’s high destiny—sacrificial love, freely chosen—to pave the way and to show the way to become who God wants us to be. It is much easier to catch fish, and likely much more profitable in the short run. But what a marvelous task: to catch men, men who are lost in an ocean full of sharks, men who float aimlessly through life, confused, purposeless. To catch them in a net of love and lead them out of the world in which they will otherwise drown into the light and air of the God who calls them to their highest destiny. And how blessed are we to be in the bark of Peter: first, caught in his net, and then, by the grace of God, taking our turn at the nets!
—Fr. Raymond Gawronski, S.J.
Lord, like Peter, it is so easy to doubt your intimate connection to our lives. Though you repeatedly manifest yourself to us, we begin to doubt those times when you visibly reached out to us. Then inevitably the time resurfaces when we pray for your direction and for your intercession in the depth of our problems. Like Peter we again experience your presence, and you invite us to serve more consistently and more authentically. Here we are, Lord, we come to do your will.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team