Today’s gospel has so many lessons to teach us. The words that strike me the most are ‘we’ve have worked all night long but have caught nothing”. Peter and his fellow fisherman were hard working men with families to support. They will go home to their families emptied handed. We have no idea how often they worked through the night and pulled up empty nets. Fruitless labour can be so discouraging, so depressing, it can drain us of energy.
How many of us, as we look at our lives, may have that discouraging feeling of having worked so hard at something and yet we have no sense of accomplishment? We’ve spent years getting an education and there are no jobs. We’ve worked hard in our careers and we don’t seem to be going anywhere. Our lives are at a standstill. We feel we’ve put everything into a relationship but it is not going anywhere. We really tried to be good parents passing on to our children our values and our faith only to get the message that our faith and values are out of date and are of no use in this day and age. We’ve been faithful to Mass and the sacraments, we’ve tried to pray but have no sense of the nearness of God in our lives. We wonder ‘where did we go wrong,’ we question, ‘what’s the use?’
Like Peter we feel we’re holding empty nets, nothing to show for all our work.
Then we are challenged by a nudge, a suggestion to give it another try, go about things in a different way, we have a determination not to give up, not to quit. We are gifted to find within ourselves a new energy, a new enthusiasm, a boldness to try a new tactic, take another look at things, we are willing to think outside the box. And things do change, or we find ourselves more patient with, more accepting of our limitations or are determined to give it another try, take a different approach to the way things are. We take the risk to go into deeper water.
Whether we realize or not we are answering God’s call to each of us to grow beyond ourselves, to open ourselves to more love, patience, understanding and growth in God’s grace as it comes to us, as it came to Peter in the daily tasks of our ordinary lives.
As you’ve heard so many times, this is the Year of Faith. Faith means coming to grips with and seeing the consequence of the basics of our faith. That’s why the words of St. Paul in our second reading are so important: ‘I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn received; that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he was buried and that he was raised from the dead on the third day in accordance with the scriptures and that he appeared to Peter and many others.
These simple words of Paul are central to our Christian faith. Jesus Christ died a shameful and painful death. He loved each one of us so much he died for us so we could be friends of God. He was buried but on the third day the Father raised Jesus from the dead to show that he accepted the sacrifice of his son. To show that the Father raised Jesus, Jesus showed himself to the disciples – put your finger into my hands and your hand into my side and believe.
All other matters of our faith are founded of these facts of most importance – Christ died for us, was buried and was raised from the dead by His Father. Paul spent his life plumbing the depths of these realities and they transformed his life. Paul could say of himself, “I live now not I but Christ lives in me and the life I live I live trusting in the son of God who loved me and gave his life for me – for me to live is Christ.”
Maybe as we look at our own faith life we feel we are stagnant, nothing seems to change – it’s the same old, same old. During this year of faith maybe through times for prayer, the reading of scripture, attendance at Mass we can dare to go out into the deep waters of our faith, think more seriously about the truths we take so much for granted, be open to a deeper, personal relationship with Christ so that each of us will be blessed to be able to say, “I live now not I but Christ lives in me.”