Contemplating Jesus


Posted on by Lucinda M. Vardey

Although Jesus used parables as a means of imparting his wisdom, his chosen apostles were more commonly taught directly. Such was the case on the shores of the lake of Gennesaret, where, after teaching the crowds from Peter’s boat, Jesus instructed Peter and his companions to put out into the deep waters and drop  nets for a catch.  Peter’s first response was a rational one.  With his fisherman’s wisdom he explained that this part of the lake had already been extensively fished throughout the night and there was nothing to be caught in these waters.  But, as Luke reported  (5:1-8) Peter didn’t hesitate to obey Jesus’ command.   Peter’s shift from his rational explanation over intense human effort, to witnessing so many fish that his nets were near tearing and the boats were struggling to keep afloat, made him claim that Jesus should go away from him “for I am a sinful man!”   But Jesus didn’t leave: Peter did. He left his old ways and followed a way that only Jesus promised.  The old route, guided by personal skill and self-determination, was nothing in comparison.

Jesus gives a similar message in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30). The master goes on a journey and entrusts his property to his servants.  On his return he rewards those who, through respect for their master and in recognition of responsible action, had multiplied the gifts he has given them.   The one who feared his master  — and hid his talent in the ground  — yielded no returns and was called “worthless” and cast into “outer darkness.” The ones who gave back more than they were given were told that much more was in store in their future.

Jesus invites us into relationship with the magnificent abundance of God.   Our response can be either to bury ourselves in disbelieving the enormity of grace that awaits us at every moment, or do the best we can in learning how to receive such grace. In explaining the relationship of God’s abundant love, St. Francis de Sales ** wrote that “the Divine goodness receives greater pleasure in giving.”  If we are able to expand our capacities to receive God’s generosity, through a relationship of loving cooperation, trust and hope, then, Jesus tells us we will  “enter into the joy of your master.”

** St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622) in “Treatise on the Love of God.”  p. 55.

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