let go the net

Apr 28, 2020

Today’s gospel for the feast of St. Peter Chanel is a natural choice for the feast day of one who responded to the call of God with a journey from France to the Pacific ends of the earth, and to his death.

It got me to think about the importance of letting go of the nets that bind us so that we can be free to follow.

Take a moment to skim today’s gospel: What word or phrase speaks most powerfully to you?

After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the Good News from God. ‘The time has come’ he said ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’

As he was walking along by the Sea of Galilee he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net in the lake – for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you into fishers of people.’ And at once they left their nets and followed him.

Going on a little further, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John; they too were in their boat, mending their nets. He called them at once and, leaving their father Zebedee in the boat with the men he employed, they went after him.

After almost five weeks confined to our homes, denied many of our usual life supports including the Sacraments of the Church, we can like the disciples begin to hear a renewed call from Jesus to consider setting out in a new direction.

It is commonly thought that the call of God is at odds with our human longings. This perception reveals a misunderstanding since God’s ‘will’ for each of us is simply a reflection, a communication, of our own deepest desire. When we do set out on the paths that God has revealed, we find that we are truly ourselves.

When we let go of unreliable securities (nets and boats), we embark on a divine adventure that satisfies every human need and finally we feel as though we are truly living.

Too often we slip into dreaming of a life that is little more than a projection of our fears and limited vision. In this existence we settle for whatever rewards seem achievable: a good career, material possessions and human relationships. But, even when surrounded by an abundance of these gifts of God, the healthy person still senses a yearning for something greater.

To follow this path beyond, is the adventure of faith.

A human existence becomes a life when we make a decision to follow the one who offers this adventure.

To use a human analogy: when we receive a generous gift the thoughtfulness of the gift directs the healthy adult to focus not on the gift, but on the giver. Yes we may appreciate and delight in the gift for what it is, but the gift (however wonderful in itself), is but a sign of the real gift that is the relationship between the receiver and the giver.

A child does not have this awareness. Children grasp at the gift and run off to play with it. Usually they have to be reminded by the parent to thank the giver, and then the child will quickly appease the parent with a ‘thank you’ before becoming fully absorbed once again in the gift.  This child-like behaviour is not distressing for the giver. How wonderful to have chosen and given a gift that delights a child. But how much more maturely human is the response when the teenager, on receiving the gift, turns in appreciation directly to the giver.

We too often resist the sound of the divine voice. Our narrow and fear-filled thinking has programmed us to childishly grasp at and consume the gifts of God and ignore the generous and loving giver.

This resistance is the cause of human stress,

As I have reflected on this theme over the past few hours the great quaker hymn is playing in my head.  Listen at this link.

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways!
Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
In purer lives Thy service find,
In deeper reverence, praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard
Beside the Syrian sea
The gracious calling of the Lord,
Let us, like them, without a word
Rise up and follow Thee.

O Sabbath rest by Galilee!
O calm of hills above,
Where Jesus knelt to share with Thee
The silence of eternity
Interpreted by love!

With that deep hush subduing all
Our words and works that drown
The tender whisper of Thy call,
As noiseless let Thy blessing fall
As fell Thy manna down.

Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm.

An Invitation:
  • A brief note on the life of St. Peter Chanel written by Peter Ewart SM at this link.
  • Invite Jesus to let you know what net you need to be free of.






Situated on SH58 near Pauatahanui, St Joseph’s Catholic church is Wellington’s second oldest, consecrated on 28 April 1878, costing 200 pounds on completion. When different celebrations are held here, people love to swing on the bell rope sending beautiful chimes around the valley. Thanks Catherine for sending this. More pics of the church interior at this link
Bell tower pics still welcome – send to john@fff.org.nz.

Tuesday Easter Week III  (15 minutes)

Tuesday Easter Week III  (25 minutes)


  1. Thankyou, Father John! I really needed this today! And thankyou so much for all you are doing for us in these trying times. It has been so easy to become despondent and discouraged and I so look forward to your wisdom every morning in my “in box” ! You are in my prayers.

  2. Thank you for this wonderful reflection today Father John. Thank you for the lovely Quaker hymn and the Pray to Sleep meditation. I intend sharing your email with my Christian friends. God bless you.

  3. In all this incessant and all consuming COVID 19 “chatter” which seems to insidiously creep into every part of my day, your voice, Father John is a comforting, ‘constant’, which keeps me focused on Jesus. Simply Thank You from Nambour, in Queensland, Australia. Sometimes I listen to your Lectio Divinas several times a day and now through Pray to Sleep my focus is on Jesus as I drift off to sleep. Many blessings to you Father John.

  4. Thank you Father John for this beautiful reflection. I felt His love today.

  5. Firstly, thank you for the now three reflections you send out each day. They have become my strongest link with Catholicism during the lockdown when in-the-flesh Mass attendance, celebration and participation is not possible, but is sorely missed.

    Secondly, your new pray to sleep reflection is timely for a particular friend of mine who lost her husband suddenly toward the end of last year and who has often had trouble getting to sleep since then and has come to rely more and more on a sleeping pill to help her get to sleep. I shared your reflection with her and she was going to give it a go last night instead of the sleeping pill. I don’t usually have much trouble drifting off but also gave it a go last night. I drifted off quickly – but then was startled awake when the Salve Regina started, and found it hard to drift off again. Could the volume of the Salve Regina be lowered perhaps to the level of the tolling bells in the Lectio Divina sound bites?

    I for one really appreciate the food you supply is with daily. I’ve tried several times of post responses but must be doing something wrong and they don’t seem to load. My attempted responses have tended to be along the lines of confirmations,and affirmations and thanks.

    • I have not been reading reflections every day yet today I was attracted to the one for St Peter Chanel’s feast day. I would like to reiterate the sentiments expressed above about the helpfulness of the reflections that come from Food for Faith. Also about the benefit of the nourishment that is received and the connection with God. This has been the case whenever I have read a reflection and today I am thinking that it is time now that I make these emails a regular part of my daily life. Thank you.

      The ‘pray to sleep’ was also especially timely for me. I have been having difficulty with sleep at times over the past number of months but it had become suddenly more frequent last week and last weekend and then ‘pray to sleep’ was there! I know that it wasn’t especially for me yet it seemed like it was!

      Fr John: I too have attended the abbey at Kopua a number of times and there I discovered the richness of such things as Compline. It is wonderful to have this audible resource for this and I thank you. However, I too have a comment about the Salve Regina. For me, the version that is used is too fast. I found it jarring, rather than soothing like it is when sung at the abbey, and I lost the sense of peace and readiness for sleep that Compline, and this digital Compline, gave me. I realise that you cannot please everyone.

      I have practiced Lectio Divina here at home for a time. Today was the first time that I listened to it on Food for Faith. Thank you so much. In this time of isolation it was most beneficial to share it with someone else and the reminders about breathing and relaxing are a very welcome addition to what I was doing on my own. Thank you again and thanks be to God!

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