By Fr. Erik Esparza
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. - Luke 5:3-6
Each of us is on a journey. The passage above from the Gospel of St. Luke shows us that our Lord Jesus desires to be a part of the journey. We all need good teachers to help us maneuver through the waters of life. Everyone knows those waters can be very calm at one moment and the very next can toss us about, filling us with fear that we might just go overboard. Not one person figures life out overnight nor maneuvers through life unscathed. However, what the Gospel says to us is that Jesus who is our teacher and Savior accompanies along the way. Jesus desires to be one with us in the boat of life to lead us to the eternal dwelling place.
For us to reach our eternal destination and to experience meaning along the way we must be willing to listen and do as we are commanded. The commandments we are given by God and called to live each day are not meant to be overbearing or unreachable. Quite the contrary, the commandments are meant to give us freedom, deliverance and assistance so as to experience abundant blessings throughout life.
The temptation for most of us is the desire to do it “my way.” We stop being students and only see commandments as rules that are viewed as an imposition upon our personal freedoms and independence. At times our stubbornness causes us to get lost, which then makes it more difficult to find our way back.
Peter in the Gospel above tells Jesus how he and the others have worked hard doing it the way they knew how and yet yielded little results. When we live with a “my way” mentality we will experience frustration and lack the results desired for our lives. After expressing his frustration, Peter finally listened and did as Jesus invited. It was only after Peter responded in obedience to the command of Jesus by lowering his nets that he immediately caught a great number of fish.
Jesus wants to provide all that we need and more. As Jesus accompanies us on our journey he will call to us to trust him and respond to his commands. These commands are not given to burden, but to truly free and abundantly nourish us. We must not sail away from the Lord nor turn away in fear. We must have faith and trust that the Lord has a plan for each of us. It is a plan that undoubtedly will have its share of storms and waves, but with Jesus accompanying us we will experience calmness and blessing. Whether in the calm or the storm, be willing to listen to the commands of the Lord by casting aside your pride and by lowering your net of humility to enjoy the abundant blessings awaiting both you and me!
Now go forth and be a joyful witness!
Fr. Erik Esparza is Associate Director of Priest Personnel for the Diocese of San Bernardino.