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Fr. Rusty's Corner

Turn Four: Thoughts from Your Parish Priest

Going Backward

 

Have you ever wished to go back to something you had before? Or wish to go back to a time that seemed simpler?  I know that I do.  When I have a stressful day in the office or deal with unique situations, I will think back to my time as a teacher or when I was in the seminary and think about how easy those times were.  The desire to go back to a job I had, a place where I was once, or even a time in my life that brings comfort and joy.  We all feel like that from time to time, but we can’t go back.  In many ways, Christ is seeking to lead us forward, and that is why we cannot go back.  This is something the Apostles realized after the Crucifixion of Christ, which we can see in John 21:1-14.

In this passage, we see the disciples simply sitting on the shores of the Sea of Tiberias.  Peter decides he wants to go fishing.  If you remember when Jesus calls Peter to ministry, He calls him from being a fisherman to a fisher of men.  His name was originally Simon, but Jesus gives him the name of Peter to show that he will be the rock upon which Jesus will build His Church.  The change of name is significant, because Simon is an indication of his old way of life; Peter is the new way of life he was called to by Christ.  Yet here, we see Peter returning to his old way of life.  Why?  He does not know what else to do.  Though at this point he has even seen the risen Lord with the other eleven, he does not fully understand what that means.  Peter thinks this part of his life is over, so he returns to the only thing he knows.  He returns to the one thing he could count on and bring him comfort and stability. 

Neither Peter nor any of the other disciples who go fishing can go back to what they were doing before encountering Christ.  He leaves them - and all of us - changed.  It is why we see that they do not catch any fish on their own, which is exactly what happened the first time.  It is at this moment that Jesus returns to them and tells them to cast their nets over the side of the boat, which yet again is just like before.  This leads them to catching a huge amount of fish, which for a final time, is just like before.  At this moment, Peter recognizes the person helping them catch the fish is Christ.  Through Peter, Jesus shows us that when He calls us to Himself in our live. We cannot return to what we were before.  It is not who we are anymore.  We have encountered the Lord, we have experienced a conversion, and we have undergone a change that leads us on the path to heaven.  So the reason we cannot go back to what was before is because it would mean leaving the path the Lord calls us towards heaven.  Peter needed to be reminded of the path by experiencing the same event that occurred when Jesus first came to him. 

In this is a great challenge.  It means we have to be willing to change, which means an openness to change.  It is not something that is easy for any of us, but on the journey towards heaven it is something the Lord calls us to embrace.  Let us not seek to restore what we had but embrace what the Lord wants to bestow on us.

 

- Fr. Rusty Vincent


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