While also meditating on today’s gospel dearest friends, the above topic came to my mind. This is because of the very remarkable virtues exhibited by St. Peter at the Lake of Gennesaret that I felt was greatly needed in our world of today.
First we read that:
“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”
The first thing that struck me in this passage was Peter’s generosity. Imagine, after toiling all night for a a catch with no success, someone who others want to listen to, climb s into your both, demands that you put out a short distance- after you had disembarked! And what for? So that he could sit down and teach others!!! Ridiculous, yeah? Tell that to a typical Nigerian like myself, and see what you’d expect with the bad economy. But the remarkable thing here is that Peter did just the opposite, he offered his boat to the Lord for the sake of others.
The question today is, are you ready to offer up your boat, to the Lord for the sake of others? Will you allow your boat to be used by God to meet other’s needs? Even when conditions of life are not even favourable for you? This question is very important for us in this dispensation when everybody is riddled by a certain degree of selfishness. When all we care about is ourselves. Where the first thing on our agenda is ourselves. This is a call to generosity of heart. The Christian message is a message of love. and how are we then true Christians if that Love does not permeate our inmost being well enough to influence our actions and decisions at a particular point in time.
Dearest friends, let us remember that it was not Peter’s shirt, nor his sandals, nor his wares that were offered to the lord for others, but his boat, the object of his profession.
How generous are we with our talents? How generous are we with that special thing in our lives which we have decided to use for our own wellbeing. You may not be a fisherman, you may be a banker, a lawyer, a student, a labourer, or a business man. How ready are you to offer the means of your livelihood for the sake of others. How ready are you to use them, for the service of others, without complaints, or excuses. Peter did this, and so can you.
Secondly we also read that:
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.”
This is the second virtue..that of obedience. Peter is a professional fisherman. Jesus in his human nature didn’t really go fishing. But here is Peter obeying the demands of the master even though all else failed. This is very important for me especially because it reminds me of the fact that no matter how much one knows, no matter how much skill you have acquired, no matter how great you are, you still need to seek the face of the Lord. You still need to follow his instructions. And this, even though you have exhausted all your competence. We need to acknowledge that in our relationship with our Lord, He knows all, and we know nothing. This reminds me of what the great Fulton Sheen said, and this related to the last point we’ll make today. He said that there are only two groups of people who ever find Christ, the wise and the ignorant. The wise are knows who know a lot, who have acquired great skills, and savvy, but who realize that they do not know everything. The Ignorant are those who do not know anything at all, the poor and downtrodden of society, and those who realize that they know nothing.
And why is this so? Because the wise who realize that they do not know everything, are open to the instruction of the master. And the ignorant also, are capable of relying on the master to teach them everything. And this is exemplified by the wise men and the Shepherds in the story of Christ’s birth. They were the only two groups of people who found the baby Jesus that night. And the thing common to these two groups, was their humility. They had some space in them for the Lord to fill. And they were ready to use all they had to find our Lord.
This brings us to this fisherman’s last virtue…that of humility. We read:
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said,
“Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man
Oh what humility! Peter feels really unworthy for the favour granted him. And God admires this humility. Remember the parable of Jesus concerning the pharisee and the tax collector who went in to the temple to pray? Remember how our Lord preferred the prayer of the tax collector who admitted his sinfulness before God? That is what our Lord loves, humility. All around us we see Christians who have imbibed a false humility. They pray to God like they deserve everything God offers. They pray that God should strike down and kill those who offend them. They claim that they are not sinners but righteous men before our God.
Dearest friends, let us beware of such tendencies. For even the devil knows how to inject pride into the smallest of favours we receive from God. None of us on earth is s righteous as God is. And not of one us can ever claim to be righteous in all our dealings. Every body knows this sincerely in himself. So we must beware of Christian pride. Not just in our prayers,but also in our dealings with others, especially those who are not Christians. God loves all of us equally. And it is a privilege that we have been called to be Christians, and not a right.
The virtues of the fisherman are the virtues we need today, both as Christians and as people of God. Its left for us to look inside ourselves and find out where these virtues are lacking, pray for and work hard to imbibe them. We know from the holy gospel of Luke, what benefits there are for those who imbibe these virtues.
They make a great catch.
They are cherished by the Lord. And finally.
The Lord calls them to himself, placing on them a greater responsibility. Giving their lives a greater purpose.
Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”