I went to mass on the Sunday before Lent, and my prayer to the Lord was to reveal to me what I needed to do this Lent. In the mass, as the Gospel was being read I felt a great revelation of the Word of God, it was like a curtain was lifted and I could see what the words really meant. It was like someone was standing next to me and instructing me of what it all means. This is something I have never experienced before. The Gospel that was being proclaimed was one that I had heard over and over again since childhood, and the take away for me had always been that everyone has a calling, or this is how Jesus called his disciples. What the Lord revealed to me was much much deeper than this.
The Lord affirmed his first message to me, in the homily that Father gave in that mass. And throughout the course of the next two days, the Holy Spirit brought to mind verses from this Gospel and then a meaning or message would unfold. This was different from other days when I would walk out of church and forget what the gospel was. I went to the Blessed Sacrament on Tuesday evening, and there the Lord confirmed the messages given to me, and also urged me to share it with the rest of the group – over email.
Since Wednesday, I had been overwhelmed with work, we went to Ash Wednesday mass, but the experience I had on Sunday was not there. I started feeling stressed, overwhelmed and guilty for not sending the email. When I saw the invite for the prayer meeting, and that we were going to have testimonies, I told myself I would deliver the message of the Lord there. Again, not what the Lord wanted me to do, but my own shortcut. I was still prompted to write my testimony down – with an email from one of my friends who had not made it that day. On Monday morning, I woke up very early, with a strong message to write it down. So here it is:
1. PUT OUT INTO DEEP WATER
The first words of Jesus in this Gospel are: “Put out into deep water”. Jesus calls us to move deeper in our relationship with Him this Lent, to venture into that territory that we are too scared or too busy to go into. To take the boat that is our faith life into deep waters of holiness and prayer.
2. LOWER YOUR NETS
It is not only important that we go into the deep waters of our faith life, we have to perform the act of “lowering our nets”. The example the Lord brought to mind was to reconcile with an old friend who has something against me, to give them a call and tell them I have been thinking about them, in addition to forgiveness and the sacrament of reconciliation.
3. TRUST IN THE LORD
Simon said in reply: “Master we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.” Many a time, our response is like Peter, but it is mostly the first part. i.e. “I cannot do this”, “I have done this before”, “I will fail at this”. The Lord reminds us that whatever we do this Lent, that we are not alone. He is with us every step of the way. The words the Lord revealed to me were: “Lean into me”. He clarified that it was not “Lean on me”, but “into” Him.
When the disciples, put out their nets, they caught so much fish that they had to signal for a boat to come and help them. Both boats were at danger of sinking. This is what we have in our Lord: “The promise of Abundance.” Many a times we see Lent as a time of deprivation, of giving up things we like, of abstinence. The Lord revealed to me that it was wrong. Lent is not a time of abstinence, but abundance. Abundance of Him in us and us in Him.
5. LEAVE IT BEHIND
The Lord blesses us with Abundance – both spiritually and in the worldly sense. What the Lord brought to mind was that the disciples (Simon Peter, James and John) were all astonished with how much fish they had caught. Yes, they had had what was their “catch of a lifetime”. It is the equivalent of us winning the lottery and getting several million dollars. Yet, when the Lord calls them to follow Him, they leave it all on the shore and follow Him. Not one of them says: “I will sell this fish, make money, give it to my family and then follow you.” When Jesus first sees the disciples, they were washing their nets. Could he have called them then? Why did he take them into the sea, have them catch all the fish and then call them. The lesson that Jesus has for us is to: “Leave it Behind”. It is the Lord that provides us with abundance, but we are called not to dwell in the abundance of the world, but follow Him.
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 5:1-11
While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening
to the word of God,
he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret.
He saw two boats there alongside the lake;
the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets.
Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon,
he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore.
Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.
After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon,
“Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”
Simon said in reply,
“Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing,
but at your command I will lower the nets.”
When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish
and their nets were tearing.
They signaled to their partners in the other boat
to come to help them.
They came and filled both boats
so that the boats were in danger of sinking.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said,
“Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”
For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him
and all those with him,
and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee,
who were partners of Simon.
Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid;
from now on you will be catching men.”
When they brought their boats to the shore,
they left everything and followed him.