Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Mystery of Peter and the Net that Didn't Tear

With the visit of Pope Benedict, it was very apt that our last teaching day of first-year Confirmation class we showed the kids Steve Ray's documentary In the Footsteps of God: Peter. At the start, I told kids to listen to the history, that it was their history, our history, and thus indispensable in understanding ourselves and our destiny. So far so good, but I didn't take my own advice. Pretty soon, I was looking at the clock and critiquing Steve Ray's approach in my mind.

Nonetheless - and this is evidence of God's mercy in Christ! - my heart was penetrated by the encounter with Christ at the sea. They fished all night, and then at dawn Jesus shows up and says try the other side. And behold, 153 fish. One catch to make the night worthwhile (we have labored in vain). How could I not think of this history without thinking of my own work which depends now on making cold calls? I call in the morning, at lunchtime, and in the afternoon - often without reaching many. But one time last week, I called in the afternoon and everybody was there. Such is the mysterious hand of destiny: a hairsbreadth to the side and you'll miss it! So, obey, obey, obey.

The second part of this story is that after following Jesus to His death, the disciples pick up and go back to work, fishing. Jesus says ok, but don't fish so close to the shore, turn around and cast out into the deep. Work is not about eating. Jesus cooked fish that they didn't catch to feed them breakfast. Work is about mission, about announcing the Incarnation, Christ present in history: history now as well as history past. Christ present amid boats and nets or with a CRM filled with prospects and a headset.

The third part has to do with history. History makes us strong. I myself recognize the madness, the unreasonableness of "call reluctance." It's unreasonable to fear the unknown because the unknown has been announced to us, we know the face of the one who waits for us. This one crumb of history last night made today entirely different. It strengthened me, and this strengthening is so important to our destiny and our mission in the world (see, for example, the heartrending account in the current issue of Traces).

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