View all Gospel Reflections |
Without You, I Am Nothing
Thursday of the Twenty-Second Week in Ordinary Time
While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God, he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret. He saw two boats there alongside the lake; the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Simon said in reply, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.” When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come to help them. They came and filled both boats so that they were in danger of sinking. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him, and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners of Simon. Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him.
Opening Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, I am grateful for this opportunity to come before you in prayer. Increase my faith so that I may believe in your word and in your provident action more deeply in my life. Strengthen my love to respond to those actions, and fortify my hope to remain firm when your presence seems less evident to me.
- Jesus Entered Simon’s Boat: Jesus “saw two boats there alongside the lake… [and he got] into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon.” God always takes the initiative in his relationship with us. God created us without asking us. He worked out our salvation of his own initiative. Nevertheless, he does await our response and our collaboration. Our first response to God’s initiative is faith (CCC 166). In this passage, we see Jesus taking the initiative in his relationship with Peter. Jesus chose Peter’s boat among many, and asked Peter permission to enter both his boat and his life. Peter accepted. Jesus then took the next step by asking Peter to cast his net. We can only respond to God, and even our positive response is the fruit of God’s grace in our soul.
- Catching Nothing: Having worked all night and catching nothing reminded Peter that he was never fully in charge of his life. Even with fishing, his area of expertise, Peter had to admit that he could not control all the factors necessary for success. Masterful technique and a profound knowledge of the lake were not sufficient. Peter had failed. Either failure can make us bitterly resent God and those around us, or it can open us up to the reality of needing the help of God and others. It is an opportunity for humility. God resists a proud heart and seeks out the humble (Sirach 10:15). Thankfully, Peter chose to open up to Jesus.
- Catching Men: When Peter saw the miraculous catch, he recognized the sanctity of Our Lord, fell at his knees, and asked Jesus to depart from him. Peter knew that he was not worthy to be in the company of Jesus. He knew himself to be a sinful man. As followers of Christ, we too must know that we are unworthy sinners. However, to focus too much on our sinfulness can lead to discouragement. Instead, like Peter, we bring our weaknesses to Jesus, so that he can also tell us to “not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” Peter, Andrew, James, and John proceeded to leave everything to follow Jesus. Even today, the Church benefits from their generous response to Christ’s invitation.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus Christ, you have shown me your gratuitous love in countless ways: in creating me, in redeeming me, in calling me to your friendship, and in inviting me to partake in your mission. Who am I that my Lord should come to me (Luke 1:43)? Please help me to respond to your gifts with faith, hope, and love.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will make the effort to discover your action in my day and to respond with faith and love, and, if applicable, action.
For Further Reflection: Read Vocation: A Calling From God.
Written by Fr. John Bullock, LC.