From Transition to Call

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February 7, 2016 Click on the left end of the black bar to play/pause

February 7, 2016
Luke 5:1-11
Fr. George Smiga

A man hails a taxi in front of his office building, gives his destination to the driver, and climbs into the back seat. About ten minutes into the drive, he leans forward and taps the driver on the shoulder. At his touch, the cab driver screams, swerves off the road, careens off a lamppost, and comes to a stop in the middle of the sidewalk. The astonished passenger apologizes. “I’m sorry”, he says, “I didn’t mean to scare you. I just wanted to ask a question.” “I know”, said the cab driver, “I’m sorry. But this is my first day driving a cab. For the last twenty-five years, I drove a hearse.”

All of us have to face transitions in life, and it is often difficult for us to manage them. Today’s scriptures present us with three people in transition: Isaiah, who is moving from a court official to a prophet of God; Paul, who is moving from one who persecutes the church to one of its greatest apostles; and Peter who is moving from catching fish to catching people. These transitions were in many ways exciting and attractive. But we can also be sure that there was doubt and fear.

Look at our own experience. When we enter a new school, when we begin a new job, when we commit ourselves to someone we love in marriage, we know that our life is going to change. Part of us asks, “Can I handle this? Will I find life in these new places?” When we realize that we will need to raise a child with a learning disability or care for an aging parent, when we make a mistake and our financial situation changes drastically, or when our family is influenced by divorce, it’s natural for us to say, “Do I have the strength to face this? Can I survive in these new circumstances?”

Peter, in today’s gospel, gives us an example to follow. Peter sees the transition in his life as a calling. His move from catching fish to catching people is not simply a change he must negotiate. It is a response to a request by someone he trusts. And Peter trusts Jesus. Even though he had fished all night long without catching anything, when Jesus asks him to lower the nets yet again, he does so.

Like Peter, we are invited to see the transitions in our life as callings. When we must face something new, either because of our own choice or because it is forced upon us, people of faith understand that the new challenge is connected to a God who loves us. A new job, a changed financial situation, the loss of someone we love in death are not simply random events we must endure. They are changes that God asks us to face. And the one who calls us can be trusted. The one who calls us will not forget us. The one who asks us to lower our nets will give us the strength to pull them up again. We might not catch as many fish as Peter, but faith tells us that our nets will not be empty.

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