Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Did Peter Miss the Fish?

The Purpose-Driven Life Journal by Rick Warren says, "A proper journey needs a proper journal." I have the online kind on days when I want to have a conversation with the world. My part of the world, at least.

In writing this I try to pick away at my misery and confusion. I try to soothe my wound. I cannot walk away from these thoughts. I have to put them down in order to move inch by inch into my personal healing.

I wonder how Peter did it. One moment he's doing his father and brothers' trade, the next moment he's following this teacher named Jesus. From working on what he and his family thought he was born to do, he left his nets at first sight of the wisdom and power of this man Jesus. This is an oversimplification, for the full story, you may want to read Luke's account.

I envy Peter's courage. He must have found the only person worth believing in for him to give up what was comfortable and familiar.

The First Reading today reminded me how God's Word does not return to Him empty. Since I have heard His Word for me, and have come to glimpse the promise behind it, I need to continue believing that He would fulfill the purpose of that Word. Yet this calling in my heart is causing me deep pain, something which I don't know how to be healed from. I should be about my Father's business. Jesus was even so bold as to say that to his earthly parents after he stayed behind to lecture the scholars at the temple.

I envy Peter's humility. He said, "Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man." I felt like Peter once again during Mass a few hours ago. I said with all my heart, "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you." The centurion taught me to further pray, "But only say the Word, and I shall be healed." It took a lot from me to believe in that. From crying in my cubicle at the office this afternoon, I hid for a few minutes at the ladies' room to cry some more. I thought I was done crying, until I went to Church and stared at the Tabernacle. When Mass started, I had to hold back the tears as I did not want to distract my fellow Mass-goers, even Fr. Steve who celebrated it.

Who cries over a good job these days?
Who cries over a loving and protective family?
Me. That is my cross. This Lenten season, that is the cup I have to drink from in order to do my share in Jesus' suffering.

Peter did not let his family down by giving up the fisherman's trade. When something bad happened to his mother, he brought home Jesus, the Healer. He healed her and afterwards, she began serving Jesus, Peter and their friends. Peter was passionate and I've always been able to relate to the crests and troughs of his faith. It's only through the past few months' discernment that I began to appreciate him more. St. Peter, please pray for me that I may follow Christ like you did. And pray that I do not miss the lawyers' "fish" when I start becoming a "fisher of men".

Fr. Ted, Gonzales, SJ, my new counselor, suggested that in giving pastoral care to others, perhaps I should consider that my challenge is to bring home such pastoral care, without expecting anything in return. I have been laboring under the notion that I could explain my way towards understanding, acceptance and approval for my choices in life. True freedom lies in following my heart and allowing Jesus to hide me in His wounds. Fr. Ted was able to figure that out after hearing only a few minutes of my life-story! How could a total stranger identify my wounds and even prescribe a possible balm for it? How could people who have known me all my life still not see things the way I see them? I am amazed at how all these works.

Peter did not stop needing fish. He still ate it long after he became a full-time disciple and missionary. Did he ever wonder if the fishermen who provided him fish later in life followed the best practices for fishing? Did he miss the thrill of pulling a heavy net? Did he miss the sea? Of course after walking on it a few seconds, he must have a totally different perspective of the sea, but I digress. I just wonder if he had an identity crisis like the one I'm having now.

Oh I remember. After Peter walked on the water, sliced off a soldier's ear, dined with the Lord, experienced healing powers himself, witnessed miracles, heard teachings, and denied Jesus three times, after all those life-altering events, he and the other disciples one day went back to the sea to catch some fish. Thinking they had lost their master and teacher, after all, they saw Him die on the cross and they attended to his burial, they went back to what was familiar. Then the resurrected Lord Jesus appeared to wait for them on the shore and cooked them breakfast!

Lord, if I decide to leave my nets to follow you, and I witness things that would cause me to doubt, remind me Who it is I am following and where it is You are leading me. I still lack faith. Grant me the grace to do as I feel You are calling me to. Provide for my family as well.

On days like this when nobody seems to understand me, I feel closer to Jesus not just while offering the Eucharist during Mass, but even during the rest of my day. Not one of my friends, brothers, or sisters could make me feel better. I'm afraid their attempts to comfort me might just lead to further confusion. Part of me yearns to talk about this but it's too precious to me. I'm too sensitive. With feelings as fragile as mine, I'd rather hide from the people I love the most.

Painful though this time may be, I am thankful, for one day in Jesus' courts like this, is better than a thousand days in the world. I would rather be suffering with You, Lord, than partying away from You.

I know I'm going to miss normal fishing. But I'm sure that the joy of following Jesus, master, teacher, healer, and friend, would be totally worth it.

Only say the Word, Lord, and I claim I shall be healed.

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