Readings: 1 Corinthians 3:18-23; Luke 5:1-11
Do not be afraid…Many different episodes in St. Luke’s Gospel are punctuated by this admonition, Do not be afraid.
As I looked over today’s readings, it struck me how long it took me to appreciate those words of Jesus. Today’s reading, describing the call of Peter, James and John to discipleship put that into perspective, when I considered my first response–elsewhere–to religious life. I never thought of fear; everything ahead looked good; of what should I be afraid?
I’m not trying to be a clown if I admit that coming to this monastic community to live out that vocation is what taught me fear. It’s true, in a sense! But my first attempt elsewhere was very naive, over-confident, too self-assured, arrogantly certain that there was no challenge that I couldn’t meet. It was a classic example of a fool rushing in where angels fear to tread.
I came to this community with greater self-knowledge, somewhat chastened and eyes wide open to the problems to be faced. I certainly couldn’t do it on my own. And if God helped out, God worked through some people here who, in their human frailty, were transparent enough to allow God to shine through them.
The figure of Peter, throughout the entire New Testament, is very encouraging to me. He sees many things clearly, as much as he may fumble; but he’s never paralyzed by shame. He keeps following Jesus, even to his own crucifixion.
A certain kind of fear isn’t crippling; it’s realistic and it’s mingled with awe.