And when he had ceased speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch” (Luke 5:4).
Not long ago, one of our priests gave an excellent homily based on chapter five of Luke’s Gospel and the Call of Simon the Fisherman (before he became St. Peter). Although Father Steve never described Simon with business language, I reflected a long time on how Simon was indeed a small business owner, a leader of others and how I related to him in this way. There are a number of powerful lessons in this short Gospel passage for those looking to integrate our faith and work. Here are five that captured my attention:
- We must always be open to the Lord’s message. Simon Peter immediately responded positively when Jesus asked him to put his boat out a short distance from shore so he could address the crowd. He could not have known what Jesus would say, but he was receptive to the message. Are we also open to what Jesus has to say? Do we seek Him out in prayer and ask for His help?
- We must be obedient in the face of adversity, bad news or any of the numerous problems we face each day. Simon the Fisherman was coming off a bad night. He and his comrades had worked hard to no avail and had caught no fish. Yet, when Jesus told them to let down their nets for a catch, they immediately obeyed and were overwhelmed with a multitude of fish. When things are not going our way at work, are we obedient to Christ’s message even if we do not understand? Do we say trustingly say “yes” to Him even when our human frailty tells us we are not able?
- We must be humble. In the heat of the moment after witnessing the miracle of the bountiful catch overloading the boats, Simon Peter falls to his knees and says “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” Rather than bask in the likely financial bounty this fish harvest would mean for him and his business, Simon Peter looks inward and recognizes how unworthy he is to have benefited from the Lord’s generous and miraculous bounty. Do we ever stop ourselves in the middle of our business success and say a prayer of thanks for His providence? Are we humbled and grateful for God’s blessings in our lives?
- We must look past the fear and embrace our mission. Jesus said, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” All of us likely experience fear in the business world on multiple levels. Yet, Jesus is calling us to see beyond the fear and look at our work as our apostolate and a fruitful place to do His will. Do we recognize that Christ is calling to us in the business world? Do we know that He has a mission for us? Are we ready to respond?
- We must invest in others and pass along the faith. The calling of Simon the Fisherman was part of Christ’s efforts to select the men who would become His Disciples. These men would be taught, encouraged and loved by the Son of God for the next three years. In our own circles, do we invest time in helping, developing and encouraging others? Do we share our faith with those we encounter each day?
I have always found great comfort in reading about the life of the man who became St. Peter, our first pope. He made many mistakes, denied Christ, acknowledged his faults and was…forgiven. Despite all of St. Peter’s shortcomings, the Lord saw in him a man who would become the bedrock of our Church and never tired of helping him live up to this expectation. It gives me hope that I am not beyond redemption and that He is also willing to work through me and everyone else who is willing to put our pride aside, surrender and say yes to His will.
As Catholic business people, we should recognize that the mission of the lay faithful forces us to consider the workplace as fertile ground in which we can do God’s work. As we know from numerous Scripture passages and clear Church teaching, we are all called to lead lives of holiness and to be witnesses for Christ. Therefore, our actions in the workplace where we spend so much of our adult lives necessarily become a critical component of responding to that call.
I encourage all of us to read more about St. Peter this upcoming Lenten season. Let us find comfort in the failings of this saint as well as his greatness in embracing the mission given to him by Christ. I pray we all find such courage and clarity in our own lives and find ways to live out our Catholic faith more fully at work, at home and in the public square.
Editor’s Note: Would you like to learn more about “regular Catholic heroes” and the joyful witness they give for Christ and the Catholic faith? Randy Hain’s exciting sixth book, Joyful Witness: How to Be an Extraordinary Catholic (Servant Books) is available through Amazon and all Catholic bookstores. Also check out his first book, The Catholic Briefcase: Tools for Integrating Faith and Work and all of his other books through Amazon.