‘He and all his companions were completely overcome by the catch they had made; so also were James and John’ (Luke 5:9)
This miracle story is also a parable of life. Peter, James and John are toiling in the boat, and to no avail. Try as they might, struggling as they do, nothing seems to go right. Surely, if they try harder, work longer, just cast their nets one more time they will get that catch which they need, which their hard work deserves.
That’s life. We can work hard. Be proud of our own efforts. Feel we deserve great rewards, yet it doesn’t seem to work out. The harder we try the less successful we seem. We think we only need to do just a bit more - but however many more bits we may add we do not seem to succeed.
And so, like us, dejected, the fishermen hit the shore. With a sense of failure.
And Jesus says: yes, you can do it - just cast out your nets. He challenges the fishermen to do what they have already done: and they are not so sure.
We’ve tried that, they say. But he doesn’t ask for extra effort. He doesn’t ask them to try harder. He doesn’t say you’ve been doing it wrong. He just asks them to trust him. Trust harder. And when they trust him - then they are amazed. Not even a normal catch - they were ‘completely overcome’.
And so too, it can be for us. While hard graft and effort may end in frustration, great successes and achievements often take us by surprise: the great idea, the act of kindness, the work of art, the moment of vision or inspiration, the talent for music or sport or human compassion. They don’t just happen - but they seem to be so much more than the effort which we put in. We become amazed, not by what we can do - but by what God can do through us.
This is grace. The free gift of God. The nets bursting with blessings.
Not because we have tried, but because we have trusted.