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How Peter’s Faith Increases

How Peter’s Faith Increases

James Tissot (1836-1902), “Jesus Preaches in a Ship” (photo: Public Domain)

User’s Guide to Sunday, Feb. 6

Sunday, Feb. 6, is the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Mass Readings: Isaiah 6:1-2a, 3-8Psalm 138:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 7-81 Corinthians 15:1-11 or 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, 11Luke 5:1-11.

This Sunday’s Gospel describes the call of Simon Peter. It takes place in several stages. While it is presented in a compact time frame, for most of us, it takes place over a longer period. Let’s see how the Lord grows Peter’s faith.

The Help That Isn’t Hard: The Gospel opens with a simple request from Jesus that he might use Peter’s boat to preach to the crowds on shore. It may astonish us that God seeks our help. What did Peter have? He had a boat at the ready. What do you have? All of us have talents, gifts, access and availability that God can and wants to use. The Lord “needs” our help. This is where the Lord begins with both Peter and us: He trains us in greater obedience through small things.

The Hesitation That Must Be Healed: Next, the Lord invites Peter to go a little deeper, to “put out into deep water for a catch.” For a moment, Peter hesitates. He is tired and discouraged. There was probably some doubt in Peter’s heart and a hint of sarcasm in his voice, for later he repents and calls himself a sinful man. So here is a hesitation that must be healed if Peter is ever to see his blessings and reach his destiny.

So, too, it is for some of us. Perhaps we’ve heard the Lord calling us to some task but hesitated because we were tired or discouraged: “I’ll come to church and say a few prayers, but please, Lord, don’t ask anything more of me.” Somehow, we must step out in faith and head for deeper waters. Like Peter, we can hesitate, thinking of all sorts of reasons why what the Lord asks of us is not a good idea.

The Harvest That Is Hauled: The text says, “When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing.” In this matter, the Lord grants Peter a great grace: enjoying the fruits of obedience in an immediate way.

In other cases, the harvest is not so swift, but this much is always true: It is promised, and it will come, whether today or years from now.

The bottom line is this: Just do your work. Obey what the Lord commands, and know that a harvest is heralded and will be hauled in someday. The harvest will come, and it will come with abundance. Just keep working and obeying what he commands.

The Humility That Heightens: The text says, “When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, ‘Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.’ Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.’” Peter realizes that he almost blocked his blessings. Healthy humility raises us; it does not cast us down. Bowing in healthy humility does not crush us; it heightens our status.

The Lord, having led Peter to a healthy obedience and humility, in effect, tells him, “Come up higher. Your concern now will not be fish, but, rather, the care of human souls who are precious to me. You will be my co-worker in a far more important enterprise.” Yes, healthy humility raises us.

Peter, through obedience and humility, is now ready to leave everything and follow Jesus.

The Lord has led him to this point in stages. In all of this, don’t miss the key, the golden chord: “At your command, I will lower the nets.” Faith is rooted in obedience and humility.

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