OK, raise your hand if you have or have had young children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews in your life? Me too… we are all blessed! When I am with my grandchildren, they love to chase me around the house. When they are running after me, they giggle with joy as they pump their little arms and legs as fast as they can… to try and catch me. And do I let them catch me? You bet I do! Because when they catch you and tackle you, you get to give them that big hug and now I am giggling with them. That game gets played over and over again, and it is a great feeling getting caught. You’ve all done that right?
Well in today’s Gospel, something similar is promised to us, only it is Jesus pursuing us! And we have to decide if we are going to allow ourselves to be caught in his net. Let’s take a look.
This passage is the very beginning of his ministry; he has left Nazareth to live in Capernaum by the sea after his baptism and the temptation by the devil. Jesus is walking along the shore and comes upon the fishermen Simon, Andrew, and then James and John. To them he says, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” We know this story, how they drop what they are doing and follow Jesus leaving their nets behind. It also tells us that from that time on, Jesus “began to preach and say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” His kingdom… for all of us.
Getting caught in a fishing net is bad if you’re a fish, right? But good for us if we are getting caught in the net Jesus casts for us. This got me thinking – do we allow ourselves to be caught by him? Do we ever actually swim for that net of his? Sure, all of us were caught at some point in our lives or we wouldn’t be here, but that was a long time ago.
So, when we are caught in the safety of his net, do we stay caught? Or do we wiggle out of the net away from him and go swim or tread water on our own? Maybe we stray from what he’d like us to do in certain circumstances or we go it alone with our burdens and worries… without him in our life at that time. I often think I can tread water all day and don’t need him. Or maybe I am not even aware that I am treading water let alone ignoring the net… his net. Or worse, I have made the conscious decision that I can ignore the wrong I have done or handle my struggles without him… and we all know how that ends. Even the best swimmers can’t tread water forever.
So, when in our lives do we get un-caught? When do we slip out of his net? For me, its things like worry about work, worry about my family, an illness, bills, unreasonable or difficult people. When I should be swimming for his net, I sometimes fail to. These worries test us. They try us and they sometime honestly, break us… and when we are washed up on the beach, we need to swim for his net and be caught again. When we allow ourselves to be caught, we can hand over that worry, we can ask for and receive patience when we need it most. We can seek his forgiveness for our wrongs. We can be put back together again. But we have to swim to the net, his safety net, and allow ourselves to be caught by him. When we push aside our ego, when we apologize or admit we cannot handle it alone, when we ask for his help, we have in fact swam into his net.
We see this even in the first reading from Isaiah where Isaiah says what God has done for his people. “For the yoke that burdened them, the pole on their shoulder, and the rod of their taskmaster you have smashed.” That’s what waits for us in his net. That is the kingdom of heaven while here on earth and the step towards our ultimate home in heaven.
That is our life with Jesus Christ, we get caught, we wiggle out, we tread water, and we realize that we need the safety of his net. We need to swim for it because we need him in our lives. And like the game with my grandchildren, we do this over and over again… and that’s OK because when we get caught again, he is as happy as we are.
Swim for his net.