Sunday, February 7, 2016

Jesus, Nets, Decisions, and the Holy Spirit

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2016:

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2016

By Deacon Lawrence N. Kaas
February 7, 2016

Every day we are faced with thousands of decisions. Many of which are of little importance. While others can impact the rest of our lives.

For us, as disciples of Christ, they are all a part of the central decision to follow Jesus above all else. At times, it can feel overwhelming, especially when those very consequential decisions have to be made and we don't know what's best, or where God is leading us. But, thanks be to God, we are not left to make these decisions completely on our own.

In fact, it's when we tried to make those decisions without turning to God and seeking his guidance that life becomes particularly difficult. On the other hand, when we take time for prayer and discernment, asking the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and trying to follow him, while making our decisions, our life could very will be filled with difficult decisions, but can still be very peaceful, because we know we aren't on our own.

For those first disciples whom Jesus called to follow him, a very concrete decision had to be made. Before the call even came, we hear the account of Jesus in Simon's boat. He gives a command, clear and simple yet challenging: "put out into the deep water and lower your nets for a catch." They have been working hard on night, and, after all, this is their profession, not Jesus' , so human reasoning could respond with skepticism at this man who thinks he knows better.

We could easily imagine Simon responding, "we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing ... I'm not going to do it again." But that's not what he says. Instead he replies, "at your command, I will lower the nets." And what happens? A miraculous catch of fish more abundant than the Nets could hold. Simon immediately recognizes the power of this man before him, and, in the astonishment at the miracle says, "depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man." He recognizes his own unworthiness, and, perhaps, there was some doubt in his mind that he's now ashamed of. The decision to do something as mundane as lowering the nets once again gave this man the ability to make the crucial decision to leave everything and to follow Jesus.

So we might ask, "how do I do that?" We are here because we've already made the decision to follow Jesus, but that decision isn't a one time thing. It's something we've got to keep doing. Consider just one thing God gives us to help us make that decision. If something - or, more precisely, seven things - you probably had to memorize somewhere along the way. They're the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and they aren't just something we had to learn to pass a test. They're central to understanding how God continues to guide us through life. For those first disciples, it was the Holy Spirit to enable them to recognize Jesus and respond to his call, and today the Holy Spirit continues to inspire us if we are willing to receive them.

Consider again the decision Simon had to make. No human wisdom told him it was the right thing to do. Rather, the Holy Spirit, through his gifts of Wisdom and Understanding, moved Simon to respond the way he did, "Master ... at your command, I will lower the Nets." And his response upon catching the great number of fish wasn't only a natural surprise, it was the fear of the Lord that made him fall to his knees before the God-man, the same one before whom the seraphim cry out, "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts!" And when the disciples made the decision to leave everything and follow Jesus, they were assured the gift of Counsel to see that it was the right decision, and the gift the Fortitude to follow through with it. They required Knowledge to receive the words, "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men," and Piety to humbly submit themselves to God's will. In all of this, it was not human insight alone that guided them. It was the Holy Spirit alive within them.

We, too, have received a call from Jesus Christ to follow him, the decisions we make each day is either to keep following him, or to go our own way, but we don't even do that alone. He continues to give us the Holy Spirit to guide us each day. God gives us Wisdom to see the world as he sees it; Counsel to know right from wrong, and Understanding to know ourselves truly; Knowledge to understand the mysteries of God; and Fear of the Lord to adore in awe before him; Piety to place our trust in him; and Fortitude to strengthen us along the way. In all things he guides us, so that we, like those he first called, by the shore of Galilee, can continue to follow him.

So y'all be good, be Holy, preached the Gospel always using words and holy actions.

'Thank you' to Deacon Kaas, for letting me post his reflection here.

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