Leave behind your nets

 16 And passing along by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men.”

The Holy Bible. (2006). (Revised Standard Version; Second Catholic Edition, Mk 1:16–17). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

Have you ever tried stripping from your life something that you really enjoy, or attempted to break a pleasurable habit? If not, you should give it a go. What you’ll find is that your ego, or “old man”, or false self will try to rebel against you. It will cast about, searching desperately for its pleasure which has now been deprived from it. These restless desires, if we are not sufficiently aware of them, are like nets which we cast about our life, hoping to catch some transient pleasure or enjoyment. When we catch some, oh! We are happy… but it doesn’t last. If our desires are not ultimately for God, the creator of our heart, then they are always finally frustrated. So we keep casting out our nets, always searching for more and more pleasures. Eventually, our catches become smaller and smaller, as we exhaust ourselves trying to drag in mere minnows.

It really is very instructive to give up some habit that you really enjoy, even if only for a day or two. It doesn’t have to be an illicit habit, any licit habit will do. However, make the commitment to be closely aware of your inner turmoil as you do so. You may begin to see that many of your actions are driven by this relentless search for pleasure, even if the pleasures are small and paltry things. As you reflect, you may see that the “boat” of your life is frequently piloted, not by your reason or by the promptings of the Spirit, but rather by the ego’s desire for comfort or prestige or whatever.

Jesus calls us to leave behind our “nets” – our disordered appetites which constantly feed our ego, our false self. By making us “fishers of men”, He wants to replace our selfish drives for pleasure by His own self-giving desire to help others [1]. This deeper desire bubbles up like living water to eternal life, and whoever drinks of this water will never thirst (or be satisfied by the “fish” of selfish pleasures) again.

[1] “Our daily life is a call to approach people in the power of Jesus’ self-forgetful identification with their hopes and struggles” – Michael Casey, Sacred Reading – The Ancient Art of Lectio Divina, pg 39

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