Leaving fear behind


Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” When they brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him. (Luke 5:10-11)

The miracle of the great catch of fish occurs at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. It is the first recorded episode of the friendship between Simon-Peter and the Lord, and it is moving each time it is read. At Jesus’ command Peter casts his nets into the deep, and catches an immense number of fish, so many that the nets rip, and the boats begin to sink. Peter then expresses his desire that Jesus go away from him because “I am a sinful man,” and he falls on his knees to emphasize this. Jesus, however, interprets Simon-Peter’s intentions and thoughts more correctly: he is afraid. Of what? Of the future, now that Jesus has entered into his life? Of the possible new responsibilities that are going to be placed on him? Of putting his trust completely in someone else? We don’t know exactly what Peter fears, but we can empathize with him. When we are confronted with God’s power in our lives, we too can become afraid.

Jesus’ encouraging “Do not be afraid” is exactly the next command that Simon-Peter (and we) need to hear at that moment. Jesus is with us, and the responsibilities we take on as a result of discipleship will not be assumed solely by ourselves, but with the help of the Lord. We need, however, to hear this divine encouragement in our prayer. We sift our fears and doubts through our conversations with Jesus. Like the Apostles, our response will be in the form of practical resolutions. As “they left everything and followed him,” so we make a determined response to follow the Lord in our daily lives. While we perhaps cannot leave everything behind like they did, we can at least begin by leaving behind our fears!

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