When Jesus got into the boat of failures and frustrations


September 3, 2020 – Thursday of the 22nd Week in Ordinary Time; Memorial St Gregory, the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church

Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/090320.cfm)


It must have been disappointing and at the same time tiring. Simon and his group caught nothing despite working all night to catch fish. Yet, there was nothing Simon can do. He and his group had to go back to the shore and wash their nets.

Have you ever been so disappointed with life? You felt tired and exhausted and there were many failures around your life. In spite of your efforts, the enthusiasm and the passion you have shown, yet, life seemed to be so unfair. It was just too overwhelming and you felt surrendering.

This must have been the feeling of Simon too as he led a group of fishermen. There was nothing, not even a single catch of fish. It was not just a failure but a disaster for a fisherman like him.

However, it was in this low moment of Simon that someone got into his boat. Jesus got into his boat and began teaching the people. Through that very boat of failure and disappointment of Simon, the Lord transformed it into something wonderful and beyond Simon’s expectation.

After teaching, Jesus told Simon something, that could have made Simon to wonder, “Put out into the deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” In Simon’s mind, it was completely absurd as human wisdom and knowledge would tell him that. They had been working all night but caught nothing. However, because it was the Lord who said, Simon trusted the words of Jesus.

This is what St. Paul said in the first reading, “if anyone among you considers himself wise in this age, let him become a fool, so as to become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God…” Indeed, by trusting the wise words of Jesus, Simon found something wonderful and life-changing.

This all started when Simon let Jesus be in the boat of his failures and frustrations. The very presence of God became an assurance to Simon in the midst of the troubles in his life and in the midst of his search of something big in his life. The invitation of Jesus to him was call of faith. To go into the deep water and to lower down the nets was an invitation to dwell deeper into the most essentials in Simon’s life, to lower down his comforts and even pretentions, and to leave behind at the shore his uncertainties, fears, failures, guilt and sins.

When Simon did all these, what he found was God’s tremendous goodness, deep love and generosity to him symbolized by the great catch of fish. This moved Simon to beg Jesus to depart from him because Simon had become aware of his sins, failures, fears and insecurities. However, this realization became the entry point of Jesus to make more wonderful things in the life Simon.

Simon was called for a bigger purpose, to a mission where his participation became an important part in the ministry of Jesus. All of these happened because Simon let the Lord to be in his boat, allowed Jesus to challenge him and to change his life.

This story of encounter with God led to chance and to a mission. Indeed, a real encounter with God or to allow God to be with us in our boats of frustrations and guilt, strips us from our pretentions and masks. Such encounter makes us bare to see how sinful and unworthy we are before God.

Yet, it is in this moment of humility and honesty that we find God more merciful, loving and forgiving to us.  Once we lay down our guards that God comes to us to make miracles in us – to free and to give a true fulfilling life.

It is when we own and claim our weaknesses, sinfulness and failures to God that we are also being strengthened, forgiven and empowered by the Lord.

Thus, these are the invitations for us today.

  • First, allow the Lord to be with us even in our frustrations and failures in life, in our guilt and shame. Never be ashamed to allow Jesus to be in our boats. Let him teach us, to reminds us how much we are being loved.
  • Second, allow the Lord to challenge us and to shake our pretensions for us to discover more ourselves before the presence of God.
  • Third, allow God to bring changes in our life and to make wonderful things even out of our messy and troubled life story.

May this encounter with Jesus empower us to go on mission by becoming His own instruments of mercy, love, peace and forgiveness. Hinaut pa.

Jom Baring, CSsR


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