The feeling of sand between my toes, the peculiar crispness of the salty air, the warm touch of the sun, the sound of the waves crashing and the seagulls squawking. One of my most treasured childhood memories is going to the beach with my dad. Almost every day during the summer we would leave the house in the morning just before dawn to catch the sunrise and to also beat the afternoon heat. The serene sunrise was not the only reason for our daily beach trips though: my dad is pretty full on when it comes to shore fishing. Spending time at the beach helped him to step back and reflect on the blessings in life.
During our trips I was given a few responsibilities. My dad appointed me as security to ensure all of his fishing gear was accounted for, and the more exciting job was to keep an eye on the rods that he already casted out. As a young child, I was ecstatic because if I reeled a fish in completely on my own, I had bragging rights to say I caught a fish that day. (I think it is safe to say that to this day, catching live fish gives me some sense of accomplishment). Over the years, alongside my dad’s particular love for shore fishing, he also perfected the aquatic art of throwing out a cast net. Soon after, he started to teach other interested fishermen and beachgoers who were in awe of his skill. His love for the sport eventually turned into a source of income for our family.
On a typical day, I sat near the rods waiting in hopeful expectancy to reel something in, and not too far off in the distance my dad would be getting ready for his next big catch. He peered out onto the horizon wearing his nifty polarized sunglasses (he claimed they helped him see better to locate fish jumping over the water, I personally think he wore them to make himself look cooler). He would stand on the shoreline, sometimes for really long periods, and wait patiently before making his way out into the water. He too was waiting in hopeful expectancy. After casting, he would haul his net back in to see if he caught anything. Sometimes there would be dozens of fish and other times there would be nothing. Even when he came back with nothing, he persisted and continued to cast out, in hopes that he would eventually hit a big school. He remained faithful. In times of discouragement, when he caught nothing, he kept returning to the water because we needed fish to sell. His obligation to our family overrode the tiredness and frustration. My dad wholeheartedly believed that God would provide.
On several other occasions, my dad would be fishing with his friends and they would take turns strategically casting their own individual nets. Someone would stand on the shore, while the others were already in the water, waiting for direction on where to cast out. Their tactics worked, for the most part, but in the instances when it did fail, they continued to persevere and to encourage each other because, similarly to my dad, they needed to. In their times of triumph, they happily shared their catch amongst each other. In today’s Gospel, Peter and the other disciples toiled through the night in hopes to bring in a decent catch and in the morning they still had nothing. (I would imagine that the cast net my dad uses is fairly similar to the one they used). A friend (Jesus!) called out to them from the shore to see how they were going and gave them a simple instruction. They followed his instruction, they did not give up, and they trusted. In the end they were rewarded 153 fish AND Jesus made them breakfast!
I was fortunate enough to experience this Gospel story in my own life. As my dad guided and instructed his friends, he was open to receiving their help as well. Through these moments I witnessed how my dad and his friends were Christ-like to each other.
Despite any obstacles, despite loss, you must remain faithful. Do what is right and allow Jesus to help you. He will never cease to take care of you. Cast out your net. Seek the truth. Believe in miracles. Have faith and trust. Continue to hope even when things may seem impossible. When things are not going exactly how you envisioned, remember that His way is perfect. Respond when He calls out so that you may be open to His direction. Allow Him to guide you. Do not be afraid to follow Him.
This reflection was written by Alyssa Mae, whom is a rebel without a cause. She is now, since being in Australia for her second year running, found herself in a couple of pickles. From the sea town of Virginia Beach, she is now allergic to seafood, and despite being a huge advocate of chocolate milkshakes, has also found herself lactose intolerant. She enjoys bread, so lets pray nothing else goes.