Thursday, February 4, 2010

Disciples take Risks!

Fifth Ordinary Sunday Year C

Many people are afraid of taking risks. It is much easier doing the things that are familiar than it is to do something which is new. Perhaps, what we really fear is failure. We fear that we will not be able to finish the projects which we have started. We fear that we will not get the results we desired. We fear that others will laugh at us for our stupidity. We fear that if we fail in this task, we would also fail for the rest of our lives.

Today, Jesus invites his disciples, he invites us, to take risks. He tells Peter in today’s gospel to “put out into deep water and pay out your nets for a catch.” This instruction must be difficult for Peter to follow because he has already failed to catch any fish on his first try. After having failed before, we often are hesitant to try again. We become discourage. We try to avoid making the same mistakes again. We move on to other projects. In the case of Peter he chose to take the risk again. If he had not tried to put out his nets again, perhaps, Jesus would not have asked him to become his disciple. If Peter had not become a disciple of Jesus, he would not become our first Pope. If he had not been the first Pope, we may not have the Catholic Church as we know it today. All because Peter chose to take the risk.

One can never be a disciple of Christ, one can never be a true Christian unless one is prepared to take risks. Many of us are hesitant to commit ourselves to a particular project or responsibility because we fear failure. Often, I’ve invited people to take the challenge of becoming a catechists, a BEC coordinator or a leader in one thing or another. Many often decline. They give a variety of reasons. Some say that they have no time. Others feel that they have enough responsibilities. Some say that they do not have the necessary abilities. But, I believe that the real reason is the fear of failure.

Today, we are reminded by the readings that all of us are called to discipleship. It is not enough to just be a Catholic. It is not enough just to come to Church or to pray. What is crucial is discipleship? Jesus came to call each of us to discipleship. The call is not only for some. It is for everyone. We are also reminded that a disciple is not someone who is talented and can make no mistakes. Peter is a good example of a disciple. He was a weak man – a “sinful man” as he claims in today’s gospel. He made many mistakes in his life even after he had met Jesus. He had fallen and had failed Jesus on many occasions. When Jesus was arrested, Peter denied Jesus for fear that he himself would be arrested. When Jesus died on the cross, Peter was no where to be found. He had run away with the other apostles to hide from the authorities. This is a disciple. A disciple is not one who doesn’t make mistakes. He does make mistakes. A disciple is not someone who will always succeed in everything that he does. A true disciple experiences failures just like everyone else. A disciple is not perfect, he does not have the answers all the time, he may not be talented. Very often, a disciple is far from perfect, he has many weaknesses and he struggles just like everyone else.

But what is most important is this – a disciple is one who is prepared to take risks. He is able to take risks because he has developed a deep relationship with Jesus. He trusts Jesus enough to be able to place his own fate in the hands of the Lord. A disciple may be weak or may consider himself as not having the necessary skills for the job, but again, he believes that is possible with the grace and help of God. A disciple recognizes his own sinfulness and constantly turns to God for forgiveness and mercy. This is the kind of disciple that each of us is called to become. Today, Jesus also extends his hand to you. Today, Jesus wants to tell you: “Do not be afraid, from now on it is men you will catch.” Come, Follow Him!

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