“POUR out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch,” the Lord told Simon while getting into the boat. “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets,” Simon responded. When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their nets were tearing.

 This is a familiar story from the Gospel of Luke (5:1-11), one that speaks about putting our faith in God. It’s a story that we can relate with because many times God challenges to cast all our fears and anxieties upon him, and not to worry about the future.

 But should we also interpret this passage as pouring our nets into deep water so that we can discover God’s abundant blessings in our lives, which many times we do not recognize? Should we say that casting our nets into the sea means hauling many memories of God’s fidelity and providence? When we do this, we calm down our fears. We become stronger in faith because we know that God is always on our side. We realize that we can withstand our difficulties and conquer our doubts. We can paddle along the sea of life because of Jesus who encourages and strengthens us.

We also grow in gratitude to God. We can’t help but thank him for providing us with our daily needs and answering our prayers, especially in times of sickness. Every single day then becomes for us a blessing. Every beginning of the day is a prayer of gratitude. This Psalm-prayer becomes meaningful to us: “I will give thanks to you, O Lord with all my heart, for you have heard the words of my mouth; in the presence of the angels I will sing your praise; I will worship at your holy temple and give thanks to your name.”

Indeed, we become unafraid of the future. We can imagine the many possibilities and opportunities to enjoy more the beauty of life, the richness of family relationship and friendship, and the joy of serving others.

The words of Jesus to Peter in this Sunday’s Gospel then becomes relevant to us: “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” Jesus will use us as his agents to bring His Good News to others, to set people free from false illusions by encountering the Truth in Him. He will continue to use us to bring joy and consolation to the poor, the lonely, and those who struggle with the sorrows and mysteries of life.

Our challenge then is to keep believing in his words and promises. Our challenge is to keep leaving behind our fears and follow him. It’s what Peter and the other disciples did. It’s the best way to lead our lives!

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From a Filipino immigrant family, Reverend Rodel G. Balagtas was ordained to the priesthood from St. John’s Seminary in 1991. He served as Associate Pastor at St. Augustine, Culver City (1991-1993); St. Martha, Valinda (1993-1999); and St. Joseph the Worker, Canoga Park (1991-2001). In 2001, he served as Administrator Pro Tem of St. John Neumann in Santa Maria, CA, until his appointment as pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary, Los Angeles, in 2002, which lasted 12 years. His term as Associate Director of Pastoral Field Education at St. John’s Seminary began in July 2014.

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