I remember one time I was in Lake Placid at the ice rink. There were all types of people, of all ages, skating on the rink. It was clear that despite the difference in ages, these were all people who were singled out for their ability to skate. It was the case that at least some of these skaters were or would become Olympic Athletes.
My attention was drawn to a young girl, who was doing the same routine over and over again. And over and over again she got to the same part of the routine, missed whatever the skill was, and went tumbling down in a heap. After a period of time, the girl had finally hit a breaking point and after a fall, just sat on the ice pounding it with her fist.
“Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing.” It is a very frustrating moment indeed when we arrive at the point where what has worked in the past no longer works. Or, those moments when we realize that despite all of the work we put in, it amounted to nothing. The disciples in today’s gospel are at that point. So was the girl on the ice. But for both the little girl and the disciples, there was a key intervention that changed everything.
For the little girl, it was when the coach came over and demonstrated what appeared to be a small correction to what she was doing. The little girl got up, did the routine again, and did it perfectly. Whatever the coach noticed and suggested had made the difference. The disciples too, receive a significant intervention that seems to make little sense.
Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch. This was the last thing the fishermen wanted to hear. They had been hard at it. All night. Didn’t he know? Anyway, he is a carpenter, not a fisherman. We are truly exhausted. But they trust. They drop the nets. And the are fulfilled.
Our faith life is not that different from the experience of the skater and the disciples. There are those moments set before each of us when we have to decide whether we would drop the nets or not. Will we trust God and God’s word, or will we continue to move away from God?