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.
In these readings with Peter, I again confront myself. I imagine Peter being told to follow Jesus’ command and wondering, “Really?” As an experienced fisherman, Peter knew the familiar waters were empty, yet he followed the directive. He allowed God’s surprise in the overflow of fish, his boat nearly toppled over, his life changed forever. Peter’s acceptance yielded to God’s way.
How often have I followed my way as best and been unwilling to listen to God’s words? How often have I relied on my smarts, only to crumble in a humble pile when I realize my stubbornness again yields renewed pain and heartache? In my insistence that I am right or in my fear of the unknown, how often have I avoided the joy of God’s surprise? Can I let Peter deepen my path to God as I risk trusting the voice that sends me on new paths?
—Mary Burke-Peterson is a parishioner at St. Nicholas Church, Evanston, an active volunteer in the Ignatian Spirituality Project, and a graduate student at Institute for Pastoral Studies at Loyola University.
Let nothing trouble you,
Let nothing scare you,
All is fleeting,
God alone is unchanging.
Who possesses God
God alone suffices.
—St Teresa of Avila