“Come and eat breakfast,” Jesus said to His disciples. And this is His word to you today as well. “Come and break your fast from my presence and come back to me so that you might be fed and have life again.”
But of course Jesus didn’t come right out and say this, not at the beginning of His encounter with the disciples. Before Jesus came to His disciples and fed them, the disciples went out to go and feed themselves. Now of course there’s nothing wrong with going out fishing if that is the way you normally feed yourself and make your living. But the disciples, some of whom were professional fishermen, caught nothing this night so that they (and we along with them) could be fed a more substantial food.
The disciples fish the whole night under their own power and yet catch nothing. Sometimes, in our daily business, we come across fishless nights where we are unable to find the success we are accustomed to. And sometimes these moments lead us to epiphanies in which we realize that maybe the reason we’re not doing so well is that we’re trying to do it all without the Lord’s help.
But there’s more to it. We may be doing fine in our business, and even thriving, and yet inside we’re wasting away, having becoming spiritual anorexics. The most important way in which we unintentionally are left without food is in the spiritual realm. No one sets out to starve himself to death or to keep fishing in spiritual waters in which there are no fish. But it happens all the time.
But the Lord comes to His disciples. He may not come during the long night; he may choose to delay His recognizable presence until you’ve gotten to the point of realizing you’re not in control. He doesn’t do this out of laziness or masochism but out of a desire for us to come the point where we will be able to see and hear Him.
In the morning, Jesus comes to His disciples. The first thing He does is state the obvious, to draw attention to their need. “Children, have you any food?” They may have understood this as a plea for help, as if the stranger on the shore is asking for them to help feed him. But their sad answer is, “No. We don’t have any food to give you: in fact, we don’t even have any food with which to fill our own bellies.”
And then, in a sudden turn of events, He tells them where to find food. “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” At this point, they still don’t know that it’s the Lord, but having exhausted their own resources, they are willing to listen to help from any direction.
And so it is that Jesus often comes to us in ways that are less than obvious. He comes to us through many means in our lives, but He comes. Sometimes, like the disciples, we don’t even know until we have been blessed that it was the Lord that came to us and filled our needs. Sometimes it’s not until the bills have miraculously been paid, or you’ve received the grace to make it through another day, or an adversary has had a sudden turn of attitude that you realize it was the Lord all along.
I often wonder how many times Jesus comes to us each day and we don’t recognize Him. How many times is He telling us to cast our nets on the right side, but because we are too stubborn or too deaf or blind we don’t obey? I think this is actually a very common experience.
How many major decisions do we make each week without reference to the Lord and His will? I was discussing with a high school senior the other day about how it was not necessary to consult God when ordering at Whataburger. But how many significant decisions each week or each day do we make by fishing all night and catching nothing? Wouldn’t it be desirable to form the holy habit of asking the Lord on a regular basis where He thought you should fish?
We are all spiritually hungry. All of us have come to the point where we have been too long without our daily bread, Jesus Christ. And yet we insist on trying to feed ourselves the spiritual food that sustains our lives. Sometimes we fast throughout most of the day, and only when we come to Him the next morning or that night or days or months later do we realize how hungry and weak we’ve really been.
For many of us, we have fasted from the Lord for 40 days and 40 nights – or even longer – and we are so spiritually weak that we don’t even recognize it. Our souls have gone into starvation mode so that we can continue on but have no spiritual energy whatsoever.
But Jesus is calling you to break your fast from His presence. Look for Him in your life, and listen for His words, in whatever form they come. He stands on the shore, calling to you, telling you where to find your daily bread: in Him.
He stands on the shore with a fire of coals and some fish laid on the fire, and some bread. And He’s inviting you to come and eat with Him that you may have strength and life again.
“Come and eat breakfast,” Jesus says. “Break your fast and eat your Daily Bread.”
Who can resist such an invitation? It smells and tastes pretty good to me!
Prayer: Lord, I confess that I have chosen too much to do things my own way and to fish in an unprofitable way. I confess that I have ignored your voice and presence and have allowed myself to grow hungry. Thank You for Your perpetual offer to come and eat with You, who are my daily bread. Feed me today that I might have life in You again. Amen.
Point for Meditation:
1. Are there any ways in which you have been fasting too much from the presence of the Lord?
2. Are there ways in which the Lord has been calling to you that you may not have recognized or paid attention to?
3. How quickly have you been obeying when the Lord does tell you what to do?
4. What decisions might you make in the near future for which you should ask the Lord “where to fish”?
Resolution: I resolve to look for Jesus’ invitation to breakfast today and to come immediately whenever He invites me.
© 2014 Fr. Charles Erlandson