God of Surprises

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February 10, 2019 – Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Luke 5:1-11

A few years ago, I read a wonderful book about the spiritual life called, The God of Surprises. Reading this work reminded me of a couple of important things that I tend to forget. First, I am not fully in change of my life. God is. And second, I may well be surprised what God has planned for me. It might often be more challenging, more demanding, and more wonderful than anything I might have expected.

This element of surprise is manifest in the narrative presented in today’s gospel. It is sometimes called “The Great Catch.” It describes a time when Jesus told Peter and his fishing crew to head out for the deeper waters. Then he told them to drop their nets, and let’s see what happens. It turned out that a whole lot of fish suddenly filled their nets. So many, in fact, that they had to call for another boat to help them bring in their haul. Peter and his fishing buddies were really surprised.

Having had such a great catch that day, Peter couldn’t wait to get out on the water the next day. Fishing was his business. It gave him and his family a livelihood. If he could get a similar catch the next day and the next day, well, he would be among those who could boast that they were quite successful fishermen.

Then came another surprise.

Jesus told him that his “fishing for fish” days were over. He would now be “fishing” for people. From then on, he would be engaged in advancing God’s reign on earth. Peter was to become one of the first followers (disciples) of Jesus. You could have knocked Peter over with a feather. This was not on his mind. (Not to mention that he likely had no idea of what Jesus was talking about!) This was a huge surprise. But he accepted the offer of Jesus. Likewise, so did some of his fishing buddies. And they did so right away. Seemingly, no questions asked.

How often are you and I surprised by what God offers us? Every day can bring an unexpected challenge, a surprising moment. A happening that was not on our schedule as we began the day. Do we welcome these unplanned events? Or do we resist them because that was not on our list of expectations that day?

Remember that God is a God of surprises. Just because we did not have this or that on today’s “to do” list,” does not mean that we are not being invited to experience something that was on God’s “to do” list. Welcome surprises, especially those that come through our family lives, a part of our lives especially known to generate big surprises.

©David M Thomas, PhD