No one wants to fail. In fact, there are many people who do not want to even make a mistake. This is often the reason we don’t want to change. It isn’t because we cant; but we are afraid if we try, we may not do it “right”.
The disciples in today’s Gospel were like this. Imagine: they are experienced fisherman, they knew the places where the fish were, they could read the lake, the weather….and after doing all this: they fail. This was on top of all the disappointment of the last day few days in Jerusalem. Jesus had been crucified and died. Sure, they had seen him, but remember, they all had run away, Peter had denied him, Thomas doubted. I cant imagine they were feeling really great.
But, notice, it was into this failure, self doubt, and mistakes, that Jesus enters. He challenges them to take a risk, to try one more time and see what happens. By being willing to come up empty handed, they try one more time, this time on the other side of the boat and looks what happened; a full net of fish. In fact, the number 156 was all the known species of fish at the point in history. The net was a symbol that the whole world was captured in the net of God, even those who didn’t yet know Jesus. It would be through the imperfect apostles that the Jesus would be preached. They realized, I think, that if they stayed close to Jesus even their mistakes would be used to spread the message. In the bread and fish, we as Catholics, see how to stay close to Jesus: the mystery of the Eucharist. As Catholics, the bread and wine are not just a symbol of Jesus nor are they just bread and wine. This bread and wine become His very presence and the food we need to do the work entrusted to us: to spread the Gospel message that Jesus suffered, died and rose again. Every Sunday, he invites us to this meal.
We are at a point in history when we, the church, have to stop throwing out the net on the same side of the boat, the symbol of the church. Jesus is standing on the shore telling us: try to do it differently and the world will be caught up in my love. Be willing to try again in a new way.
How? By first committing our life’s to Jesus. To look up and and see Jesus in a new way, maybe for the first time even if we are cradle Catholics. Then and only then, will we be a transformed church. Jesus must be the center of our lives and the center of the church and the center of this parish community.
We don’t need to do it perfectly. If we remain focused on Jesus, we cannot fail. He will transform all our mistakes and failings into ways to transform the world into the Kingdom of God. But, everyone who calls themself Catholic needs to be in it together and let Jesus show us the way. We must be like Peter and jump into the water and run to Jesus. We must be like the beloved disciple and recognize him in the breaking of the bread, the Eucharist. Only when we are in it together, we will truly be Church.
My brothers and sisters, let us look up and out of the boat of our complacency and apathy, see Jesus anew. Let us listen to Jesus and throw our net on the other side of the boat and try new ways to be “Church”. This meal he has sets before us every Sunday must the highest priority in our lives as Catholic Christians. Without it, we are nothing and we can never be the new Church Jesus calls us to be.
He is standing on the shore of our lives right now; will you, will I, jump into the water, with all sins and failings, and run to him, our Resurrected Lord?