The Burden of Blessing: Why So Many Fish, Jesus?

#MyMassTakeaway for the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

I found myself shaking my head at Jesus (once again…) during today’s Gospel reading.

Those poor fishermen had been out fishing all night and caught nothing. Jesus (a carpenter, you guys) told them to go out and try again.

Simon put up mild resistance, but did what Jesus asked anyways. To his great astonishment, Jesus miraculously filled their nets with fish.

Jesus didn’t just fill the nets – he filled them so much that the boats almost sank.

Now why did he go and do that? Couldn’t he give them a normal amount of fish? Why so many fish, Jesus?

I can just imagine the smirk on Jesus’ face as the fishermen are panicking, trying to keep their boats afloat, figuring out how to deal with this outrageous amount of fish.

And in the middle of the chaos, Simon falls to his knees and cries out:

“Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”

Luke 5:8

I can’t say I blame him. This isn’t your normal, daily blessing from God. This is a blessing of overabundance that brought a whole new round of trial and hardship for Simon.

What’s worse, catching no fish? Or catching so many fish your boat sinks and you lose your whole livelihood?

But the boat didn’t sink, after all.

Simon was brought to the point of self-knowledge through the extravagant blessings lavished upon him from God. And at that point, Jesus invited Simon to step into an entirely new role in life.

When the blessings of life are comfortable, we don’t have the same opportunity.

When we receive the good things of life – in just the amount we need, we can keep cruising along in the life we’re living.

It’s when we’re blessed to the point of burden that real transformation can take place.

When we receive that overabundance from God, when our vessel is full and overflowing, when we feel like we can’t absorb one more ounce of blessing, it’s then that we come face to face with just how inadequate we are.

It’s then that blessing brings the burden of our unworthiness, the knowledge of our littleness, the weight of our sinfulness. It’s then that we fall to our knees and cry out:

Enough! Depart from me, Lord!

We are on the verge of capsizing under the weight of goodness that is more than we can bear.

But Jesus says: fear not. Do not be afraid.

He knows that this blessing is too much for us. He knew it all along. But he gives us the blessing anyways. He gives us the burden, the challenge, to allow our hearts to swell to the point of breaking.

Ah, but Jesus doesn’t let us break. He doesn’t leave us floundering. He doesn’t let our little boats sink. Instead, he calms our fears:

“Do not be afraid, from now on you will be catching men.”

Luke 5:10

When the blessings of life are too much for our frail human hearts, Jesus doesn’t pull back – like we might expect him to. Instead, he holds out the promise of greater things.

These fish that are sinking your boat: they’re not all I have in store for you.

And we step out of that boat of who we once were. And we become who we are in Christ.

We follow him more closely.

We grow in knowledge and love of him like never before.

Our lives are transformed by him, defined by him, united to him.

Jesus becomes our everything, and through him we grow. We grow in capacity to love, to give, to live the Gospel message.

We grow in capacity to leave everything behind for his sake.

No, a normal amount of fish doesn’t cut it. A comfortable blessing isn’t enough. Jesus will lavish us with the overabundance of his presence and grace in our lives.

And when that time comes, we fall to our knees at our unworthiness.

But then Jesus speaks a word. And we rise again and follow him.

#MyMassTakeaway Linkup

#MyMassTakeaway is a community building hashtag. I encourage you to use it to share your thoughts about the Mass, Eucharist, and readings every Sunday.

Check out these reflections, and head over to Instagram to join!

tojesussincerely

Here’s my takeaway (in shortened form) over on Instagram! 

View this post on Instagram

#MyMassTakeaway – The Burden of Blessing. Jesus didn’t just fill Simon’s nets – he filled them so much that the boats almost sank. Now why did he go and do that? Couldn’t he give him a normal amount of fish? But this isn’t your normal, daily blessing from God. This is a blessing of overabundance that brought a whole new round of trial and hardship for Simon. Simon was brought to the point of self-knowledge through the extravagant blessings lavished upon him from God. When we receive good things in just the amount we need, we can keep cruising along in the life we’re living. It’s when we’re blessed to the point of burden that real transformation can take place. When we receive that overabundance from God, when our vessel is full and overflowing, it’s then that we come face to face with just how inadequate we are. It’s then that blessing brings the burden of our unworthiness. It’s then that we fall to our knees and cry out: “Enough! Depart from me, Lord!” Jesus gives us the burden of blessing to allow our hearts to swell to the point of breaking. Ah, but Jesus doesn’t let us break. Instead, he calms our fears: “Do not be afraid, from now on you will be catching men.” When the blessings of life are too much for our frail human hearts, Jesus doesn’t pull back – like we might expect him to. Instead, he holds out the promise of greater things. These fish that are sinking your boat: they’re not all I have in store for you. And we step out of that boat of who we once were. And we become who we are in Christ. We follow him more closely. Our lives are transformed by him, defined by him, united to him. Jesus becomes our everything, and through him we grow. We grow in capacity to love, to give, to live the Gospel message. We grow in capacity to leave everything behind for his sake. No, a normal amount of fish doesn’t cut it. A comfortable blessing isn’t enough. Jesus will lavish us with the overabundance of his presence and grace in our lives. And when that time comes, we fall to our knees at our unworthiness. But then Jesus speaks a word. And we rise again and follow him.

A post shared by Sara Estabrooks (@tojesussincerely) on

beautifulcamouflagedmess

I love how Anni’s reflection pulls together the Sacrament of marriage,the call to holiness, and the elements of trust and sacrifice.

“Marriage requires sacrifice. But, it also requires trust. It requires us to cast our nets out into the deep end of the water, skeptical as we may sometimes be, and trust in the Lord to pull us together – and, to keep us on the straight path.”

View this post on Instagram

Today is World Marriage Day – right in the middle of the National Marriage Week. Only four more days before Valentine’s Day. Yesterday, our priest hosted a team for a marriage enrichment workshop. Unbeknownst to him, at Mass following the workshop, our priest’s homily gave me more to ponder on the Sacramental relationship of marriage. . . When we are called to marriage, we are called to sainthood through that vocation (I’ve written about that quite a few times). We are also called to help our spouse to become saints. . . Marriage requires sacrifice. But, it also requires trust. It requires us to cast our nets out into the deep end of the water, skeptical as we may sometimes be, and trust in the Lord to pull us together – and, to keep us on the straight path. . . But, the key component is that marriage isn’t just about the husband and wife as a two-person team. Rather, it’s about God – as the Third partner in our vocation. Only with God’s strength and assistance can we truly trust, communicate, and help each other along this journey to eternity. . . This week, dear reader, I challenge you to pray for marriages – yours, mine, and all marriages. Pray for the marriages that may be struggling, and yes, pray for the marriages that are strong. Let us cover all marriages in prayer, focusing on the path which will lead us to God! . . And, as always, don’t be afraid to live as a bold, brave, Catholic spouse in your marriage. . . #marriage #vocations #marriedcouples #worldwidemarriageencounter #catholicwife #catholiclife #catholicsonline #catholicsofinstagram #marriageworks #marriagetools #marriageworkshop #worldmarriageday #nationalmarriageweek #mymasstakeaway #boldbravecatholic

A post shared by Anni Harry (@beautifulcamouflagedmess) on

catholic_pilgrim79

Amy encourages us to cast out into deep waters, in spite of our sinfulness, with the knowledge of and confidence in God’s great love for us.

“And yet…. “By the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been ineffective.” Through all my unworthiness, Christ still counts me worthy. Why? Because He loves me.”

spiritual.father

Fr. Adam poses the question:

“How are we called to a humble recognition of our own faults while maintaining the desire to follow Christ’s command to go out into deep waters?”

And… shares this image from today’s first reading which I found both moving and frightful upon hearing it!

ginnykochis

Ginny always has the right words of encouragement for the difficulties of mom life. Today’s reflection is no different.

“Don’t worry, dear lady. His grace is sufficient. Just focus on letting it in.”

ourlittlestjourney

Lisa reminds us not to let ourselves be held back by our own sinfulness. Let yourself receive God’s love and mercy.

thecatholicmama

Christine’s takeaway is so powerful. She reflects that Christ is not comfortable:

“When Jesus calls on us, what he asks of us may be extraordinarily difficult. We may feel like we’re sinking in the midst of that calling… But if we trust in Him, we’ll make it through and find something infinitely greater than what we were holding to in the first place.”

View this post on Instagram

#mymasstakeaway – “When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come help them. They came and filled both boats so that the boats were in danger of sinking.” (Luke 5) . . . . . . What jumped out to me in today’s Gospel reading is not the extraordinary trust and obedience that the disciples displayed, but rather, that when Jesus calls on us, what he asks of us may be extraordinarily difficult. We may feel like we’re sinking in the midst of that calling. His desires for us are ultimately good and in our best interest, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be a real challenge for us, that it won’t feel overwhelming. That our safety nets may tear and we may be close to sinking and we can’t rely solely on ourselves to get things done. . . . . . . Jesus is not comfortable. He does not tell us to keep with the status quo, to keep on keepin’ on. He challenges us, pushes us, divides the chaff from the wheat within us. But if we trust in Him, we’ll make it through and find something infinitely greater than what we were holding to in the first place. . . . . . . #catholic #catholics #catholicmass #catholicchurch #catholicconnect #womenoffaith #christianblogger #catholicblogger #catholicfaith #catholiclife #Catholicism #catholicmom #thecatholicmama #christianmom #christianity #christianwriter #latinmass #romancatholic #traditionalcatholic #Godislove #Jesusislord

A post shared by Christine Mooney (@thecatholicmama) on

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