Many, many years ago, I would go night fishing with some friends. We’d leave Friday after work, drive two hours to our special place, set up our lanterns as the sun slid down behind the horizon, and fish… sometimes till 2 or 4am. I’m no expert but was told the fish were more active at night. It also helped that we were the only ones there.
I remember these experiences every time I hear Peter say, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing,” and I can identify with his frustration because, even though we did well most nights, there were times when we did not catch many.
By this time, Peter had seen the miraculous things that Jesus had done. As John tells us at the end of the wedding feast at Cana, His disciples began to believe in Him (Jn. 2:11). Peter makes a leap of faith and, acting from his new experiences, continues, “…but at your command I will lower the nets.”
Peter had another experience like this after the crucifixion. Not knowing what to do next, he decided to go fishing, again at night, with his friends and, again, he caught nothing. At dawn, as they are coming to shore they see Jesus. He tells them to lower their nets to the side and they caught so many fish that the nets nearly tore apart (see Jn. 21:1-8) However, there is one big difference between these two miraculous catches..
In this latter experience, John tells us they were close to shore, only a hundred yards out, but in today’s Gospel Jesus tells them to “put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” It’s as if Jesus knows the limitations of their new belief in Him and must lead them to deeper waters to deepen their Faith.
God does the same for us. There are many times when He challenges our Faith, leading us to deeper waters where our Trust in Him might be fragile but has the opportunity to grow. If we are patient with God, our Faith will grow as the Apostles’ did, who left everything and followed Him.