Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Many of us can empathise with Peter and his companions in the story of today’s Mass. They had done their best, they had fished all night but had caught nothing; all their time and effort had been for nothing. They were tired and dispirited. It’s possible to do one’s best, yet at the end of the day we have nothing to show for it but weariness and wounds. One might study hard for an exam yet not gets the desired results. A team might play their hearts out in one game yet lose the match. A parent might do his or her best yet a child goes off track. When we fail after having done our best the last thing we need is blame. To fail is painful enough without someone rubbing salt into the wound. It’s hard to accept if one’s best isn’t’ good enough. Most of us experience failure at one time or another. Failure breeds despair. The person who can draw strength from failure is very rare. When this happens what we need is someone to believe in us, to encourage us, and to challenge us. Failure is not the falling down but the staying down. We also must remember that success isn’t everything. We can win an argument but lose a friend. Through competition and promotion we may advance in our profession, but in terms of relationships we may be impoverished. Success is sweet at the moment it is achieved. But almost immediately the cup of success begins to drain away and a feeling of emptiness sets in. Is this not what is happening to a lot of people in our buoyant economy. Some people today are only interested in climbing the social ladder, enjoying unlimited pleasure but yet they are extremely lonely people, they experience emptiness and they ask is this as good as it gets? Jesus did not blame Peter and his companions. But he didn’t encourage them to wallow in self-pity either. Nor did he allow them to rest in failure. He challenged them to try again: ‘Launch out into the deep and let down the nets for a catch’. Jesus knew that Peter was a sinner. But he knew that he was also capable of greatness. He knew that Peter and his companions were capable of better things. So he threw down a challenge to them, and to their credit they responded wholeheartedly. They left everything and became his first disciples. We all need someone who accepts us for what we are, and who believes we are capable of more. That someone is Jesus. If we give more time to our friendship with Jesus then we can have more confidence in ourselves. All of us fear something in our life, the results of a medical test, parents fear the daunting challenge of raising children in a challenging environment; we fear death; etc.; why not listen to the words of Jesus today: ‘Be not afraid’. Like Peter, let us find in Jesus, a friend in whom we can believe and feel secure in his promises. In today’s gospel Peter feared failure when Jesus instructed him to lower the nets once more. Maybe we also feel that we have failed, or are failing; maybe we are tired and we don’t have the desires, the longings to go on. Let us pray to have the courage to try again even when it feels futile. In a world that demand perfection as a prerequisite for credibility, remember that it is not the world, but Jesus, Creator and Saviour who has confidence in you. We can summarise all that we have said in a phrase: ‘every sinner has past – every saint has a future.