Confronting the Impossible
Today’s Gospel reading brings us St Luke’s articulation of Christ calling the first disciples.
In this well-known account, Christ asks Simon and John to cast their nets into waters they know do not yield any fish. Simon’s response is interesting, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.”
This nevertheless is interesting because it shows that Simon remained intimately aware of the situation at hand. He had labored all night; he had nothing to show for his efforts. He accepts the reality of his situation. And he lets Christ speak into the situation.
I am reminded of the story of the three youth in the furnace. When confronted with the power of Nebuchadnezzar, the youths reply, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
Again, we see a situation of dire reality. The youths know that the fire has the power to kill them. Yet again, they encounter God.
However, I think we can be tempted to say, “And they encounter God, and all goes well.” But Simon still had to cast the nets and the youths still had to enter the furnace. Day in and day out, we encounter seemingly hopeless situations that remain. We do not know what we will be called to do, especially when Christ is extending the invitation. In the case of Simon, Christ asked him to do something he had done hundreds of times before even in the immediate context of expecting no return.
Obedience and love are really the left and right feet of walking with Christ. Without moving both feet, it is difficult to succeed in following Him.