From time to time, I have used the word “proleptic” to describe a particular Scripture passage. Today’s Gospel passage is a perfect example of what that word means. Before Jesus calls Peter, James, and John to follow him, he asks them to cast out their nets. Even though they have not caught anything the previous night, the best time to go fishing, Peter casts his nets. The nets are so filled with fish that they begin to tear. That miracle is proleptic. It points to something in the future. Just as the nets of these fishermen are filled, they will catch many men and women as disciples of Jesus by their preaching. Through this miracle, Jesus is letting the future apostles know that they will draw many people to God’s Reign.
Peter and his fellow fishermen needed that miracle to overcome any fear they may have had about following Jesus. Venturing out into deep water is risky business. Leaving behind their boats and nets could not have been easy. Like us, they probably felt unprepared and unworthy, maybe even incompetent for the task at hand. Think of what it was like to walk into a classroom for the first time as a teacher or to take up your first shift at a hospital as a nurse. I am hoping that there were other teachers or nurses to help you through any anxiety you may have felt and to provide the support you might have needed. Jesus accompanies his apostles as they take their first steps as evangelizers.
Today’s first reading from the Letter to the Colossians reminds us that we are strengthened with every power, in accord with Jesus’ glorious might, for all endurance and patience. God has made us fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light.
Just as Peter put out into the deep and caught so many fish that his nets begin to tear, we are called to put out into the deep, trusting in the presence of Jesus no matter how bewildering, astonishing, or fear-inducing it may be. Through grace, available to us especially through the Eucharist we are about to receive, God will provide the catch for us.
Fr. Lawreence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator