Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, "He catches the wise in their craftiness," and again, "The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile." So let no one boast of men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future, all are yours; and you are Christ's; and Christ is God's.
The Lord's are the earth and its fullness;
the world and those who dwell in it.
For he founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers. (R./)
Who can ascend the mountain of the Lord?
or who may stand in his holy place?
He whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,
who desires not what is vain. (R./)
He shall receive a blessing from the Lord,
a reward from God his saviour.
Such is the race that seeks for him,
that seeks the face of the God of Jacob. (R./)
Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.
When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch." Simon answered, "Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets." When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus" knees, saying, "Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!" For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people." When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.
The saying that it is well to count our blessings is well grounded in Holy Scripture. Sometimes victory or success can be our undoing, when we take it for granted and become arrogant about it, or worse, contemptuous of others as "losers". Oddly, a person could be mre deeply hurt by success than by failure. Paul in First Corinthians sums up the attitude that will save us from the pitfalls of success: Let there be no boasting and no name dropping like, "I am of Paul or of Apollos or of Cephas." We ought to be honestly aware of our blessings, for "all these things are yours," but we also remember: you are Christ's and Christ is God's.
To really appreciate we have been blessed can unleash a generosity in us. We have just heard the response of Simon Peter and his friends to their catch of a large number of fish by the power of Jesus, how they were willing to stake all their future on his guiding words. There's a strong sense of "noblesse oblige" about this story. They were drawn to follow Jesus because he appealed to the best that was within them.
Most of us will have tasted the experience of failure in one shape or form. We may have failed to live up to the values and the goals that we had set ourselves; some enterprise or some initiative that we had invested in may have come to nothing; some relationship that was important to us may have slipped away from us. All such experiences can leave us feeling disheartened. Such an experience of failure is to be found in this morning's gospel. We can hear the note of failure in the words of Peter to Jesus, 'we worked hard all night long and caught nothing', and in his later words to Jesus, 'leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man.' Yet, the gospel proclaims loudly that failure does not need to have the last word, because the Lord is stronger than our failures and can work powerfully through them. The Lord transformed the fruitless night's labour of the disciples into an abundant catch of fish, and he insisted that the sinful Peter would share in his own work of drawing people into the nets of God's kingdom. The Lord is constantly at work in all kinds of seemingly unpromising situations, drawing new life out of loss and failure. Yet, for this to happen, the Lord needs us not to give in to discouragement. He needs us to keeping putting out into deep water in response to his faithful word.