Trust is an integral part of any relationship, but trust is something that is lacking these days. One of the first lessons I learned in Army basic training is that you must trust your foxhole buddy, and he has to trust you. Trust does not come immediately, but rather a bond develops over time. Working together day in and day out, learning what makes each other tick and all the rest helps this bond develop, and eventually, you would be willing to lay down your life for them. In today’s Gospel from St. Luke, we have a story of great trust.
Simon and his companions had been out fishing all night, and they were exhausted. The only task they had left to complete before going home and getting some sleep was to wash their nets and put them away. Along comes Jesus. We are unsure if Simon knew who Jesus was, but he no doubt has heard about him.
Jesus asks to use Simon’s boat to preach to those gathered on the shore. Jesus gets in, and they push out a little way offshore. All Simon wants to do is get the nets washed and put his down on his pillow, but first, he has to deal with this Jesus guy.
Luke does not record what Jesus said, but Simon was listening to him, and he must have heard something that convinced him that this Jesus was alright. When Jesus is finished, he turns to Simon and tells him to push the boat into the deep water and lower his nets. Simon tells Jesus that they are tired because they have been fishing all night but, he trusts Jesus and does as Jesus asks.
Simon and the other load into their boats, push offshore, and head out into the deep water. They lowered their nets and haul in the most significant catch they had ever seen, so much so that it almost sank the boat. Others had to be called over to help them get the fish into the boat.
Recognizing what has happened, Simon falls to his knees and asks Jesus to depart from him because he is a sinful man. Of course, Jesus knows this but chose him anyway. Jesus tells him not to fear and that he will be fishing for people from now on. But the next part of the story is astonishing. Luke tells us that they returned to shore, left everything, and followed Jesus.
They left everything and followed Jesus. Would you be willing to do that?
Paul, writing to his church in Corinth, reminds the people thereof of the calling of the Apostles and how, after Jesus’ death and resurrection, he returned to them. Paul also reminds them that he was once a great persecutor of the church, yet Jesus used him to spread the Gospel story. Paul is asking the people in Corinth to trust his testimony that it is true so they can share in the eternal life of God through Jesus.
When Jesus appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus, Jesus asked Paul to trust him. When Paul was brought to a believer’s home to seek assistance because he could not see, the man was being asked to trust Jesus. Paul asks those who knew about him and his persecutions to trust that he has changed. Trust is a significant part of the spiritual life of Christians.
There was a time when we believed what was being told to us by those placed in authority over us. We might be skeptical about it, but we trusted that they had our best interests in mind when sharing information. We might have known that we were not being told everything, but we still trusted. Then we found out we were being lied to or important information was being withheld, and we started to doubt those good intentions. Our governmental and church leaders began to crumble before our eyes. We found out that they were flawed individuals faced with the same temptations as the rest of us. They fell hard from those pedestals we had placed them on, and now we have a suspicion rather than a trust. All of this is well-founded to a certain extent.
Seventy years ago, a young woman placed incredible trust in what she believed God was asking her to do. She went to bed the night before a princess and woke the following day a Queen. Her father was dead, but she had a job to do, and for 70 years, she has performed that job with selfless dedication to her people and in her faith. She asked the people that she would now lead to trust her.
Through a series of events, she went from a potential life of obscurity as a minor royal, wife, and mother to a life in the spotlight where every decision she made would be scrutinized by a world that no longer placed unquestioning trust in those called to lead. She trusted those around her to guide her and train her for the job that would come, but when it came, she stepped through that door all by herself. She had trust. Trust in her training. Trust is those around her. And trust in God.
When we were baptized, we either made promises or promises were made on our behalf, and there was a certain level of trust in those promises. When we stood before our friends and family and made promises that we would love, honor, and cherish one another for the rest of our lives, we had trust in the other that this would hold true. Every human relationship involves some level of trust.
Trust is easy to establish for some, and when that trust is violated, it is devastating. The difference between trusting another human being and trusting God is that God will never let you down. God’s love is steadfast; even when we stray, God continues to show us mercy and provide grace.
Is God asking you to trust? Are you willing to trust but still have some doubt? Simon was a man with a reputation as a fisherman that could have been damaged by doing what Jesus asked him to do. Simon knew that he was putting everything on the line to trust Jesus and push that boat and drop his nets over the side, but he was willing to risk it because he trusted.
Such was their trust that they left everything as it was and followed when they returned to shore. They left their livelihoods behind and followed Jesus. That split-second decision changed their lives and the lives of the families forever. Do we have that level of trust?
Jesus is asking each of us to push out into the deep, to places that make us uncomfortable, and cast our nets and fish for people. We are being asked to be the witness for Jesus in our families, our workplaces, and our communities. So what is holding us back? Are we afraid of what others might think? Are we unsure of what we truly believe?
In a few moments, we will symbolically gather around this table to be fed by the body and blood of Christ. We are being asked, regardless of what you think it is, to trust that God forgives us, and by the action of saying yes to God in communion, we are given the grace necessary to love and forgive others. Trust is a large part of our spiritual life.
Just as Jesus asked Simon to trust him, we are being asked the same. Of course, the question is different for each of us, but trust is the same. If we trust, God will use us in ways that we cannot even imagine, and our lives will be changed forever.