Thursday, September 05, 2013

Bearing Fruit

Thursday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time 

From the day we heard about you, we do not cease praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, so as to be fully pleasing, in every good work bearing fruit and growing in the knowledge of God, strengthened with every power, in accord with his glorious might, for all endurance and patience, with joy giving thanks to the Father, who has made you fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light.  Colossians 1:9-12

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”  For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him, and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners of Simon.  Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”  When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him.  Luke 5:8-11

God, like Peter, we are caught up in other-worldy pursuits.  Help us to drop our nets and pay attention to your call. Jesus, come to us where we are –whether we are ready or not.  Holy Spirit, give us the strength and fortitude to listen to the call and respond without fear in a way that will help us to bear fruit on the mission.  Amen(d).

We pray for continued progress just as Paul prays for the Colossians in one of the original “Palanca” (epistles) and as Peter makes such progress before our very eyes.
The fishing incident is treated somewhat differently by John and Luke.  Luke uses the “success-following-failure” in conjunction with the first call of Peter, James and John to become disciples.  After this episode, they dropped their nets and let the boats “drift away” in order to follow Jesus.
John, however, uses a similar incident at the very end of his story.  The fishing incident falls after the Resurrection when the disheartened disciples are locked away and ready to abandon the hope of Christian community and return to those boats and nets.
Was one of the evangelists playing fast and loose with the facts?  Did Jesus intervene twice to lead to a successful catch?  Did the “catch” invigorate or re-invigorate His followers? Maybe both.  Maybe only one. 
However, without being too literal, I take a different meaning from these readings.  First, Jesus comes to us where we are.  Some of us have been followers but the lamp is not burning too brightly.  Others have not been lit ablaze yet.  Either way, Jesus wants us to accompany Him and He wants to accompany us on our walk. 
Secondly, Jesus wants us to make progress.  We will not get to the “finish line” overnight.  Our lives like the lives of Peter, Paul, the Colossians and others we meet in Scripture are all a work-in-progress. 

The remarkable thing about the readings are that these are again signs that Jesus performed when at the beach.  Although we have passed Labor Day, the visions of beach vacations may not be foremost in our minds.  However, Jesus did not come to the disciples in the middle of a relaxing vacation.  They were at the water’s edge to get something done.  Jesus came to them (in both John and Luke’s accounts) while the disciples were in the middle of their hard work and were vexed by the lack of success.  He came to them on-the-job.  And to the busy, he asked them to do another job.
Where will Jesus come to you today?

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