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)
How proud and confident Peter had become as a fisherman. For years he had managed to make a living on the lake; he could tell just where and when the fish would bite. He was the master of his kingdom. So when Jesus asked him for a ride in his boat that eventful afternoon, the last thing Peter expected was to return to shore a changed man. You and I often go through life like Peter. We grow up learning the ways of the world. We achieve a decent lifestyle; even in the midst of recession we try to settle down and breathe just a bit easier.
But one day, perhaps like Peter, we experience the awesome power of Jesus and come to recognize how small our world has become. Perhaps it isn’t as dramatic as that boatload of fish since the Lord can come even in a small whisper or a light tap on the door of the heart. If we can listen and respond, if we can take the risk of relationship with God to say, “Here I am; send me,” a whole new world of opportunity dawns. We come to the realization not only of who we really are, but also of who we are really meant to become.
Here is the moment of truth: what do I do next? In the face of his miraculous catch of fish, Peter suddenly becomes conscious of his humanity: he is fragile, dependent, even sinful. “Save me, Lord, for I am a sinful man,” he says. For any of us, the moment we recognize our inadequacy, our dependency, our need for God’s goodness and love, that is the point that we can truly turn over our lives as Isaiah did and say: “here I am; send me.” In handing over to Christ our desires and daily challenges, our success as well as our failure, we suddenly discover a mission and purpose far beyond the constricted categories of our imagination, far beyond what we can ask or conceive.
In truth it is only by God’s good favor in sharing so much life and possibility with us that we can become all that God desires. It is only through God’s overwhelming love that our boat becomes filled to overflowing with what gives and sustains life. As February moves us to the beginning of Lent, let us catch the wind, set the rudder, and allow the boat to fill up with what really matters. Blessings of Lent!
—The Jesuit Prayer Team
Lord, sometimes you ask us to take on something that doesn’t quite make sense. Or you present to us a vision that seems too big for us to tackle. Like Peter, Lord, you are telling us to let down our nets once again. Perhaps we need to recast the net near a broken relationship, in our financial struggles, near a dismissed dream or in the haunting illness that surrounds us or someone we love. Maybe the net needs to find a place within our marriage and family. Lord, though your invitation can be so impractical and difficult, we will say “yes” and follow you.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team