I love the doubt I read in Peter’s voice. I love the “I don’t think Jesus gets it” kind of attitude. But the part I love the most, is that he does it anyway.
This Gospel from today’s Mass (Luke 5: 1-11) is particularly human of Peter, the apostle who I think gives many of us hope. He tries so hard, wants to follow, to walk on water, to build those three tents (at the transfiguration), and he swears he won’t deny the Lord. He falls short….so many times…but he doesn’t give up. He stumbles, he falls, almost drowns, runs away, but he always comes back with the sincerest apology and the firm resolution to do better.
In today’s Gospel though, he feels the urge to tell Jesus, “Um, we are expert fishermen, we’ve been doing this all our lives. We didn’t catch anything all night. We’re tired. This is pointless. But if you really want us to cast those nets one more time, then we will.” Maybe I’m paraphrasing, but when you re-read Simon Peter’s words, you see how he tells Jesus how they have “worked hard all night” and how they haven’t caught a single fish. It’s very informative sounding. As if Jesus doesn’t know!
Then comes the best part, “…but at your command I will lower the nets.” He thinks it is waste of time, but Jesus said to do it. Peter had been listening to Jesus preach from his own boat. He had sat in the presence of the Son of God and heard His words. Imagine sitting there, discouraged after working all night and having nothing to show for it. He was probably absolutely exhausted. But there is something renewing about the Word of God (then in person and now in Sacred Scripture). So what does he do? He does the will of Jesus. He does what Jesus commands him, despite the exhaustion, the doubt, and the fact that it seems there isn’t a single fish left in the sea. And what happens? Well they almost sink two boats trying to haul in the catch.
In the next few lines, Peter tells the Lord to depart from him. “…for I am a sinful man,” he says. No one could move, they were astonished. Jesus looks kindly at all of them, smiling at their humility. And He tells them to not be afraid, that He will make them fishers of men. And, as we know, they leave EVERYTHING (that means all those fish they just caught) and followed Him.
There is so much we can learn from this Gospel passage. Peter does what many of us tend to do, he doubts that anything good can come from a terrible situation. He can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Then Jesus commands him to do something. And he does it…after telling Jesus how crazy He is. But Jesus always rewards those who do His will. He works with all of us, no matter how doubting or tired we are.
Lord, today I ask for the grace to do Your will. I ask for the faith to do it despite my doubts, despite the seemingly insurmountable mountains in front of me, and despite my fear. I know that You have grace and eternal life for all brave enough to follow You. I ask for the grace to leave everything and follow You. In Your Name I pray. Amen.