Maybe the slogan for today’s Gospel could be: ‘When the going gets tough, the tough go fishing’. People in the face of tragedy often react by doing something familiar that keeps their minds off their pain. We avoid dealing with things we can’t handle by focusing on something we can. It’s a common way of coping. So, it’s only natural that Peter, after his world has turned upside down, goes back to fishing, the thing he knows best.
But, after Jesus lovingly confronted Peter, he fished for human beings. He was finally able to boldly preach the good news. Peter even had the courage to preach to the people who arrested him. In today’s first reading, five thousand are baptized in one day as a result of his preaching. That’s some catch!
It’s OK to avoid facing reality for a while, but problems can’t be solved if we stay stuck in denial. What would have happened to the infant Church if Peter had kept just fishing for fish?
We have issues today that are hard to face – issues in our Church and in our world. Some of the problems seem overwhelming – problems like the environment, life and death issues, health care, declining moral values. The temptation for any of us, like Peter, is to ‘go fishing’ – to pretend the problems aren’t there or to just distract ourselves from thinking about them. It’s true that no one person can change the world, but change can come if each one of us does his or her part.
Problems for us, as for Peter, can be opportunities if we tackle them head on. We might not be able to do everything, but we can do something. It’s almost incredible that the risen Lord is so down to earth that he invites his friends, “Come, have breakfast”. What could be more human? Today, let the prayer we say in this Mass become our grace before meals wherever we sit down to breakfast: “Perfect within us,, O Lord, the solemn exchange brought about by these paschal offerings, that we may be drawn from earthly desires to a longing for the things of heaven”.
- Fr. Damian Towey, CP is a member of the community at Our Lady of Florida Spiritual Center,North Palm Beach,Florida.