Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch." Simon answered, "Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets." When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!" For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; and so also were James and Jn, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people." When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.
How important it is to come to the end of your resources! "Jesus allowed pitch darkness to sweep over my soul," wrote St Thérèse of Lisieux. “I wish I could express what I feel, but it is impossible. One must have travelled through the same sunless tunnel to understand how dark it is…. There is… a wall which towers to the sky and hides the stars." Her next words were (how amazing!), "I have never before felt so strongly how gentle and merciful God is. He sent me this heavy cross just at the time when I was strong enough to bear it…. Nothing now hinders me…. I no longer want anything except to love until I die of love. I am free and fear nothing."
A French biographer of St Thérèse said it was characteristic of her to be always at the end of her resources. It is because she always gave everything she had. She never had anything up her sleeve: no tricks, no escapes, no clever explanations, no blaming, no postponing…. She remained always fully present and vulnerable to experience. That is why God could give her so much.
"We worked hard all night and caught nothing," said Peter in today's reading. Peter was quite often at the end of his resources. He had given up everything to follow Jesus. It didn’t matter that all he gave up was a boat and a few nets; it was everything he had. It is not these (or any material possession) that would hold him back, but his reliance on them. He had had the courage to come to the end of his resources. Later he would be dragged even further beyond. The man he followed would be killed, and having nothing else to do he would go back to fishing; but that terrible night too he would catch nothing (Jn 21:3). He would be without a past and without a future. That must have been like St Thérèse's wall reaching up to the sky and letting in no light. But for them both, it was the moment of recognition: "It is the Lord!" (Jn 21:7).
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