Sunday, February 7, 2010

The enemy of faith isn't disbelief; its fear (5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Luke 5:1-11)

While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listeningto 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.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 fishand their nets were tearing.They signaled to their partners in the other boatto come to help them. They came and filled both boatsso that the boats were in danger of sinking.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 himand 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.

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Life seems easy when we’re in control. Every so often though, we do lose control. We get disappointed. These disappointments range from the very small to the very big. There are always two possible responses when life throws us a curve ball: (1) Become bitter and lose faith and trust, in God and in ourselves, or (2) Trust God all the more and let him take the driver’s seat.

Peter and his fellow fishermen—hadn’t got a catch the entire night, then Jesus comes along making a suggestion. Why should Peter listen? There were two things going against listening to Jesus’ suggestion: (1) Jesus was no fisherman. He was a carpenter. What did a carpenter know about fishing? (2) Peter had already told Jesus that they had been fishing all night with no success.

And yet Peter chose to listen to Jesus and put his trust in him, even if he wasn’t himself too sure. In the end, his trust paid off. They caught a lot of fish almost breaking their nets.

God cannot show us great and amazing things, God cannot let us experience the great adventure of life in its fullness unless we insist on being in the driver’s seat and controlling everything: ourselves, other people, even God.

But that’s not always easy to do. Control gives us a sense of security. We know what we want, we know how to get it. The opposite of trust is not the lack of trust. The enemy of faith is not disbelief. The opposite of trust and the enemy of faith is fear. We refuse to “let go” because we’re afraid. We’re afraid of failing; we’re afraid that we might not make it. We’re afraid that our effort might not be enough. In fact, we’re sometimes even afraid that God’s effort will not be enough.

And that’s perfectly understandable. When Moses came to God asking him to give water to the Israelites who were wandering in the desert, God told Moses to strike the rock once and water will flow. But Moses was so afraid that he might fail, that the people will revolt, that even God might fail, and so what does he do? He strikes the rock twice. Just to make sure, perhaps. And God, of course, didn’t like that one bit. It showed that even someone as great as Moses could, every once in a while, experience fear and consequently, lose a little bit of trust.

Can we give up control and let God be in the driver’s seat of our lives? It can be scary, because like Moses we sometimes think that even God might fail.

The thing is, unless we can become like Peter, and put our trust in God completely, trust that God knows what he’s doing even if we feel doubtful sometimes, we will never really know what great and amazing things God has in store for us.

Saint Paul in his second Letter to the Corinthians tells us: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard what God has ready for those who love him”. Unless we “let go”, and let God be in control of our lives, we will find ourselves again and again, frustrated, disappointed. And we will never experience that great adventure of life that God has in store for us.

Let go then. Let God be in control. There is nothing to fear.

"The Kingdom of Heaven is a condition of the heart." (Friedrich Nietzsche)