Training is important, but it can only get you so far. Peter and the disciples with him, at least some of them, were trained fishermen. However, they were not able to catch any fish because our skills and techniques can only get us so far. There comes a point where we must rely on God's help, especially His Grace working in our hearts, to make our work fruitful. With Christ's words, “Children, cast out on the right side,” they are able to bear much fruit from their training. The same thing happens for the apostolic work of the 12, the mission that Christ has for them. They were trained for three years at his side, but that training and discipleship, although irreplaceable, is not everything.
Peter, called to be the head of the Church, the leader of Christ's flock, has already shown by his denial of Christ before his Passion that we need more than training to live our vocations: we need on-going support. Why else do you think AAA is such a successful business? It provides constant support – no matter what.
The vocation we are called to live is our way of sharing in Christ's mission. When Jesus tells Peter to “feed my sheep” and “tend my lambs” he is requiring all of us, in our own ways, to do the work set out for us: as spouses, as parents, as teachers in the faith, as role models, as Christian friends, as missionaries across the world and across the neighborhood. All of this is our work, and we all have received some training for it whether we noticed it or not – though not necessarily 3 years worth like the disciples.
And besides this training, we have God's daily support. If we aren't close to God, if we don't rely on His Providence to work through our lives, if our work is not dedicated to the mission He has given us, then everything we do in life is less effective. I don't mean less effective in the eyes of the world: a non-believer can cut a piece of wood just as good as Saint Joseph. A prayerful life, close to God, for His glory, will be more effective in what truly matters: salvation, sanctification and praise. Salvation for it will save ourselves and others. Sanctification because it will make us to be saints and help others along the same path. Praise because it will give glory to God with the words of the countless hosts of heaven in Revelation today: “blessing, honor, glory and might to the One (the Father) who sits on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever. Amen.” This is the fruitfulness of a prayerful life. If only we pray and listen to Christ's words to us, remaining docile to the activity of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, we will be able to produce an effective ministry that serves the Church's mission and lifts up the world to His Grace.
Let us pray for each other to live well the vocations, the various missions and apostolates that God has prepared for us: in our families, our parishes, our local communities.
Jesus refers to the apostles as “children.” This is such a loving way of reminding us that we always need God to support, guide, and lead us to what is for our good and the good of others.
Today, in this Eucharist, we beg our Lord to help us work well in our mission, to “tend His flock” that He has entrusted to us, and to rely on His strength and guidance in that work.