Finding Christ in Failure

In Luke 5:1-11, we see the apostles encountering Christ in the midst of their business failure, but then leaving their success in order to follow Christ.

Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!”  For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken;  and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.

St. Mark the Ascetic writes that affliction and failure can open our hearts and minds to discover there is at work in the world a will and a way which are not ours. Problems can help us look beyond our limited self to look for meaning, purpose, to seek God.

“If Peter had not failed to catch anything during the night’s fishing (cf. Luke 5:5), he would not have caught anything during the day. And if Paul had not suffered physical blindness (cf. Acts 9:8), he would have not been given spiritual sight. And if Stephen had not been slandered as a blasphemer, he would not have seen the heavens opened and have looked on God (cf. Acts 6:15;7:56). As work according to God is called virtue, so unexpected, affliction is called a test. God ‘tested Abraham’ (cf. Gen. 22:1-14), that is, God afflicted him for his own benefit, not in order to learn what kind of man Abraham was – for He knew him, since He knows all things before they come into existence – but in order to provide him with opportunities for showing perfect faith.

Every affliction tests our will, showing whether it is inclined to good or evil. This is why an unforeseen affliction is called a test, because it enables a man to test his hidden desires. The fear of God compels us to fight against evil; and when we fight against evil, the grace of God destroys it. Wisdom is not only to perceive the natural consequence of things, but also to accept as our due the malice of those who wrong us. People who go no further than the first kind of wisdom become proud, whereas those who attain the second become humble.” (The Philokalia: Volume 1, pp 142-143)

No one can put together what has crumbled into dust,
but You can restore a conscience turned to ashes;
You can restore to its former beauty a soul lost and without hope.
With You, there is nothing that cannot be redeemed.
You are Love;
You are Creator and Redeemer.
We praise You, singing: Alleluia!

(Akathist, GLORY TO GOD FOR ALL THINGS)

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