The Miraculous Catch
Fishermen know that the best fishing at night is in shallow waters next to the shore. At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, He was found sitting in a boat just offshore teaching a multitude of people. After Jesus finished, in order to pay Peter for the use of his fishing boat, He instructed him to go out into deeper water. Peter’s initial response was to protest. After all, He was an experienced fisherman who had worked hard all night and caught nothing. He was entirely worn out and hesitated.
This story is analogous to Peter’s faith at the time of the Lord’s call. His faith was shallow. But Jesus was going to lead him to a deepening of faith and wanted to fill him with greater confidence. When Jesus calls a person, the response demands a new and deeper commitment.
Notice what Peter does even though he was extremely tired. At the Lord’s command, he was willing to give it one more try. This is how Jesus works. When we think we have reached the limit of our abilities, Jesus asks us to go a little bit further – out into deeper waters. Faith sometimes leads us to places that are further away from that which is familiar or comfortable. Faith always asks us to do what is right, which means to follow the Lord. This may require us to leave the security of resources, talents, and even a familial environment. By the shore, we feel safe and that we can handle everything. The security offered by the world is symbolized by the shoreline in this Gospel passage. On the shore, we just have to count on ourselves and not Jesus. By living life this way, our faith cannot be tested and hence it can never grow. When we are afraid to leave the confines of the shore, our faith grows stagnant. Then we protest as Peter did and toil over things but in the end catch nothing. Foolishly, our logic says we’ve done everything needed.
In the distance however, a faint call demands a deeper commitment and greater courage. The Lord is calling us to something that has more meaning and to a depth of understanding much greater than we currently hold. But to achieve this, we must leave the confines of creature comforts. The Lord directs Peter to “launch out into the deep and let down your nets.” St. Ambrose of Milan sees the spiritual meaning of this request as an invitation to give one’s life over to the deeper mysteries of the knowledge of the Son of God.
Peter’s protest is quickly converted to obedience which shows something in his character. Notice how he welcomes Jesus onto his boat having never ever met the man. Notice how he is given over to Jesus’ words and obeys Him in everything. When he is asked to launch out into the deep, Peter does not become exasperated and ask the Lord to leave his boat but instead says, “At Your word I will let down the net.”
Isn’t it marvelous how the Lord works! Observe how wisely the Lord arranges our salvation, drawing to Himself each one by means of the things that are his own and with which he is familiar. As He attracted the Magi to Him with a star; as He attracted the tax collectors by a tax collector; here He attracts the fishermen by means of fish.
Peter’s trust in the Lord was so warm and authentic that it led him to deeper faith. When Peter followed the Lord, he experienced a catch beyond his wildest imaginings. The great catch of fish was an extraordinary miracle. The people were so amazed by the Lord that they wanted to follow Him to see other miracles performed. And I tell you that the Lord performed greater and even more marvelous miracles than this.
Peter’s life is a testimony to the greater things experienced with the Lord. After the miracle of the catching of fish, Peter left his livelihood as a fisherman and exchanged the net of his trade for the net of the Gospel. No longer would he let down a net to catch fish but rather he would now let down the Gospel to catch such a great number of men that the apostles themselves could not handle the haul. They would need other men and women of faith laboring with the apostles for that great catch that still is being taken to this day through the power of the Gospel.
Continually in His ministry Jesus called sinners and brings them into a deeper commitment and intimacy to Him. This is the sign of what He now does through the Church. He takes sinners and makes them His own. Every day the humble words of the Gospel reach down and shower us with the grace of God. These sacred words seek after us until we have faith enough to leave the shoreline and venture off into the deeper parts of faith and God’s majesty.
FATHER PETER’S PASCHAL MESSAGE
Christ is risen! Truly, He is risen!
ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!
“Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut…Jesus came and stood in the midst [of the disciples], and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ ‘As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’” – Gospel of John 20:19 & 21
The mystery of the Resurrection is as remarkable as it is unfathomable. How can we comprehend God taking on flesh, which includes all the limitations surrounding our human nature, in order to defeat death once and for all? As a result of this victory, the power of His divinity shines forth reminding us of His tender love and great mercy. No day holds the message of His arising with greater significance than this day – Holy Pascha.
By examining the theological doctrine of Christ’s Resurrection, which is the very foundation of the Christian faith, one will discover that it is at the center of the human experience. Every interaction, every moment in life, every connection and dealing with another individual is intrinsically linked to God. To highlight this, our Saviour delivers a significant directive that creates a profound anthropological implication. As specified in the Gospel of John, Jesus tasks His disciples of spreading the Gospel of Righteousness. Likewise, by extension, we too are to share in this sacred mission of spreading His Gospel by witnessing to His wonders in our lives.
The Church’s anthropology [how it understands the human composite as being a mixture and blend of the material body and immaterial soul] is formulated and set by the Lord’s words; “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”
During the Paschal celebration, we must remember these words as being spoken to us personally. These words can challenge us and embolden and strengthen us for the sacred task of preaching the Gospel.
We cannot be parochial when it comes to Christ and His message of salvation. We are to introduce the Lord and speak of Him daily with all whom we come in contact. Let us, as St. Peter says, “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” – 1 Peter 3:15
On the glorious day of Pascha, God’s power and majesty are fully displayed. His forces alone are sufficient enough to encourage and move us into action. Let us, therefore, declare His wonders to the world.
If we are spiritually attentive to the Paschal celebration, Christian anthropology teaches, without a shred of doubt, that Christ will cause an awakening in how we regard the intersecting of Christianity and humanity. Year after year, during this the Feast of Feasts and the Festival of Festivals, the Church asks us to integrate all things into the Risen Lord. By doing so, we will sweep aside the primitive and insular views of a modern society that disassociates the Divine and human conjoining.
Finally, and most especially in the celebration of Pascha, we understand that Christ has eternally linked Himself to us [the icon of the Resurrection depicts this with a simple touch; Christ holding the hands of Adam and Eve.) Through this Divine action and sacrifice upon the Cross, man has been forever united to God. So my dear brothers and sisters, let us now bask in the glory of Christ’s Resurrection, for our Saviour, having destroyed the death and Hades alike, now reaches out to tenderly touch us as He did our first-born parents bringing us to eternal life.
With this we are given grace to take up the noble task of proclaiming the Gospel that the Crucified Christ has risen to the glory of God the Father, Amen.