03 September 2009

Duc in Altum

It's hard to read today's Gospel and to resist the temptation to write a dialogue for St. Peter. Here is Peter, tired - and probably frustrated - after a night of unsuccessful fishing and he's washing his nets when Our Lord tells him to cast his nets once more. Most of us, tired after hours of unsuccessful work, might not respond so readily to a suggestion to return to our task. We might be tempted to respond, "Are you kidding? I've had no luck all night! What makes you think that things will be different if I cast my nets now?" This is a natural (and rather logical) response.

Today's Gospel has served as a fertile metaphor for evangelization as well as for vocation ministry. And men and women involved in these fields find rich meaning in today's Gospel text. For the rest of us Christians, however, who might not be actively engaged in either of these good works, it seems that the key to today's Gospel is how Peter's fate changes when he casts his net at Our Lord's command. We may not always find our ships sinking with an abundance of fish but if we commend all our work to the Lord, we cannot be far from His grace. Sometimes we are asked to return to something which was unfruitful -- like Peter's fishing. At times, it may seem pointless to return to a project, a relationship or a task which seemed, to us, to be hopeless. When, however, it is clear that the Lord is inviting us to revisit a fruitless venture, we can trust that He will bless our willingness, as He blessed Peter's alacrity in today's Gospel. Our fidelity may not always be rewarded as visibly as Peter's catch of fish, but we trust that it is our faithful response for which we are responsible, not the outcome of the fishing trip!

"For we are commanded to have great care in what appertains to God's glory and to our charge, but we are not bound to, or responsible for, the [outcome of the] event, because it is not in our power."
St. Francis de Sales

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