Never a dull moment. What started out to be a looser kind of day turned into a jackpot. Peter’s decision to obey what seemed a ridiculous command made all the difference.
Usually St. Peter is the one who has his foot in his mouth. He always said the wrong thing, did the wrong thing, even recognized that he was a sinful man. Who can forget the time that Jesus called him Satan because he was trying to avoid the Passion? How could Peter ever live down the bedrail, even after he had been warned of his denial? So Peter had a lot of black marks against him—from start to finish. However, in the story about the great catch, Peter is the hero because he obeyed. We can imagine the argument which St. Peter had in his mind. He was the fisherman. He and his companions had worked all night, which apparently was the best time for fishing, and they had caught nothing. Didn’t say that they had only caught a few—they caught nothing. Doesn’t take much of an expert to figure out that when one catches nothing; the best thing to do is pack up and go home. Peter was ready to go home. He was tired, frustrated, disappointed. The last thing he wanted was to keep fishing. “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.” Blind faith, complete obedience, total trust—that’s what Jesus asked, that’s what Peter gave. Ever feel that kind of a pull from the Lord? Ever hear Jesus asking us to do what we would rather not do? “Go visit your mother-in-law. Help feed the homeless. Get involved in the nursing home ministry.” Whatever takes us out of our comfort zone is usually from the Lord. Remember that Jesus came to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable. (By the way, you won’t find that in the Bible—that’s theology “a la Msgr. Gus”)
Facing facts. That’s what many think that Faith is about: Being happy, having all that we need and more, and not being bothered by anyone or anything. That’s one reason that so many come late for Holy Mass and leave early—so they don’t have to touch anyone or look at the announcements before Mass or listen to anything that might challenge them to get involved. (Not at this Mass of course!) Our Faith is much more than just “getting by”—doing the minimum.
We are asked to put out into deep water. That’s after we have done our usual routine—whatever we think is our best—worked all night. Why? Because God knows better. A new concept for many of us who are in the habit of telling God what we need, how we want Him to act, and which way our life should go. Shutting our mouth and listening to God can be a drastic change. Deep water is unknown territory. A typical excuse that we use is that one that St. Peter used, we are unworthy—“Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” Notice that Jesus ignored his confession and gave him a job. God already knows that we are sinful. He’s watching 24-7—not to catch us—not to condemn us—but to give us something better to do—to get busy building up His Kingdom. The Lord chooses to work with us in spite of our faults, because frankly if God looked around for only perfect people, He would never get anything done. Look what happened to Peter. He was made the head of the Church—least likely—least qualified—not too smart. But Jesus chose him. Now it’s our turn. If we dare to listen, Jesus keeps calling—“put out into deep water”. Yet, we are never forced, only invited. Regardless of what we are asked to do or to be—the grace is always present.
We are challenged, all the time. Like St. Peter, we need to have the courage to do whatever God wants. We will always receive more than we give.