“’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.” (Luke 5:4-6)
The book of Hebrews tells us that the word of God is living and active. When Ezra read the Word of God to the people, they were struck to conscience and cried. However, when Jesus preached the Word of God in his hometown, they took offence at him. As a result, Jesus did not work many miracles there. In today’s Gospel passage, Peter grumbled at the Word of God but when he obeyed, Peter saw for himself the living and active power of the Word of God. Without a doubt, our readings today contain so many powerful lessons:
1. Failure is Just a Stepping Stone
Having been rejected from his hometown, Jesus could have decided to give up entirely. Failure is very painful. There are many of us here who have allowed our dreams to die or refused to answer our Divine Call all because our attempts at actualising them failed.
Like Peter and his fellow fishermen, some of us have worked all night (the best time for that particular work) only to catch nothing. Like St. Paul and Isaiah, some of us may have become so disappointed with ourselves because of our sinful past. Jesus experienced failure in teaching his own people but He pressed on. Change your attitude to failure. Stop looking down on yourself. Learn your lessons and move on.
2. God Calls Us through the Ordinary Events of our Life
It wasn’t by mere coincidence that Peter and his team failed that night. It wasn’t by mere coincidence that Isaiah happened to be in the temple when he experienced a vision of heaven during the time of the incense. It wasn’t by mere coincidence that Paul was arrested on his way to Damascus while on a mission to destroy Christianity. Not all of us would be lucky like Isaiah to hear a voice from heaven but if we reflect on our day to day events we would see the hand of God leading us somewhere.
When Peter saw a great catch of fish which he was not expecting to see, he knew this was not about fish; that, he had just encountered God. He fell down immediately at the feet of Jesus saying: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” Peter recognised the Divinity of God. He and his fellow fishermen would eventually abandon that great catch of fish alongside their boats and nets to follow Jesus.
Have I had a similar experience to Peter? Did I like Peter, draw closer to God after the miracle? Did it lead me to repentance?
3. Obey God’s Word No Matter What
It really felt like a joke when Jesus said: “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” God’s words sometimes come to us as a joke. At times, it feels as if what God is demanding from us is unreasonable and impossible. Peter replied to Jesus, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But AT YOUR WORD I WILL LET DOWN THE NETS.”
Do I trust God enough to obey His Words? Do I even realize what my life would have been if only I have been faithful to obey God’s words? Have I been toiling in vain like Peter simply because I feel comfortable living a sinful life; a life of disobedience to God’s word? Do I select and choose from the word of God? Am I one of those “progressive” Christians who feel that some of God’s commandments are no longer relevant especially those related to human sexuality? Trust and obey God.
4. Just Make Yourself Available, God Will Do the Rest
One important lesson we also learn today is that you do not have to be perfect before God can use you. For all those called by God, there is always a sense of unworthiness deep down within them. Jeremiah felt he was too young. Isaiah had a guilty conscience. Peter called himself a sinner. Paul persecuted Christians.
God does not call the qualified, rather he qualifies (completes, adds to, and betters) the called. In the case of Isaiah, an Angel touched his lips with a lump of burning coal and granted him divine absolution but not all those called by God receive such dramatic experiences. Sometimes, God does not even “qualify” the called, he uses them just like that. Even the so-called “bad priest” can inspire vocations. At times, a poorly prepared homily strikes a chord and brings listeners to tears. All we have to do is to say with Isaiah: “Here I am, send me.”
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, teach me to obey your word even when it is hard and tough on my skin. Amen.
Bible Study: Isaiah 6:1-2,3-8, Ps. 138:1-5,7-8, 1 Cor. 15:1-11, Luke 5:1-11).