In today’s Gospel, I am sure Peter remembers well, the cock crowed three times, and the other disciples know well they had abandoned Jesus in his last hours. But each one eventually opens their heart and responds to God’s call.
I always have to smile at Peter’s response to Jesus revealing himself to the disciples, yet another time...“Let’s go fishing”....the truth is, the disciples, dazed and confused return to that which they knew best... fishing! However, even the one thing that they thought they knew how to do, doesn’t work anymore!
Everything has changed...and then there are these appearances of Jesus, raised from the dead! He appeared to them and breathed on them and gave them the gift of the Holy Spirit, he gave them a mission and sent them out, just as he had been sent by God....and then they went fishing!
And so Jesus follows them and tries again to help them understand what their mission is and to what it is that he is sending them to do...he makes another attempt to guide them on their way.
Jesus tells Peter explicitly that he is to shepherd his flock...and for each time he denied he knew Jesus, Jesus asks Peter if he loves him.
And Peter eventually accepts this new role but with the knowledge that it will ultimately take him to a similar death as Jesus, who is asking Peter to take up “his” cross and follow him. The disciples are often presented as not fully understanding Jesus’ message and to what it is that Christ is calling them...but he is patient and calls them again and again...just as Christ calls us.
Over and over again, no matter how many times we find our nets empty and think all the fish are gone, Jesus comes to us and tells us to “try the other side”. Regardless of how many times we deny Jesus or refuse to throw our nets on the other side, Jesus is patient and will lovingly ask us again....with God there is always another chance! Where is God calling me to cast my nets? Imagine for a moment how they must have felt.
I think that we all know how Peter and the other fishermen felt. After a long and fruitless night they’re tired and disappointed...and they are confused about what has happened to Jesus, dawn arrives and the nets are empty. We’ve all invested time and energy into things that simply did not pan out; we’ve known failure in one guise or another.
In the midst of the daybreak of their disappointment, with empty nets in hand, Jesus called Peter to go back out there and lower their nets again. Disciples trust, even when their nets are empty, that there are fish out there to be caught. Jesus calls the disciples to action, to show their faith in him.
Even though Peter three times denied he knew Jesus, he was given the opportunity to three times proclaim his love for Jesus! We are called to measure our fruitfulness, not by individual success, but by our faithfulness to our call...our call to be disciples of Jesus Christ. Our trust remains not because of what we can do, but rather, in what God can do through us.
What is God calling me to in my life? When I hear God’s call how do I move from protest to grace? Am I willing to follow Jesus’ directive to “launch out into the deep”?