Where I am going, you cannot come. I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.
Today’s Gospel reading was John 21:1-14.
Consider the impact of what was being asked of the disciple fishermen Jesus spoke to.
Also consider that Jesus had established a message of Good News that the Kingdom of God was at hand… Right then… Right there… And he challenged his followers with a message of transformation from a life framed by a culture of oppression, greed, and violence to one of compassion, inclusion, love, mercy, forgiveness, and social justice.
Ancient fishing boats of that day we’re all built in a common fashion that included a steering mechanism or rudder arm that was mounted on the RIGHT side of the boat. In fact, the term for the right side of a vessel was starboard, a term that had in its origins the term for “steering”. Steering was done from the right side of the boat. This meant that the boat would pull to shore or the port and dock on the left side of the boat. Thus the left side became known as the port side.
Why is this relevant?
Because Jesus told these experienced fisherman to ignore all that they knew and to have faith in him. To ignore the problems and impracticality of his suggestion and cast their nets on the right side of the boat.
Jesus was asking his followers to do what was not intuitive… What was contrary to common sense… Contrary to what they had always done.
When the disciples did as Jesus suggested they found their experience transformed and all were satisfied and pleased with the outcome.
This is what we are called to do today. While we think we know that our way is right Jesus is telling us that we need to follow him and to something different… Something that is not intuitive and may not make common sense. But we are being called to follow his way and experience the transformative change that will come to us and God’s kingdom on earth if we will only walk forward in faith!
I’ve often read or listened to the passionate telling of a transformative spiritual experience. The “mountaintop” experience, near death experience, or battle with a potentially terminal illness that leaves one changed.
Forever different, with a new found certainty in their faith or particular belief system.
If I’m to be honest I have to admit that I’ve been envious of those who have had a transformative experience.
I’ve sat silent in group after group listening while various individuals recount the moment when they “accepted Christ” into their life, or “found their faith”, or were “born again”.
I didn’t used to sit silently. But over time I began to feel that there must be something fundamentally wrong with me… My soul… My being…
There must be something wrong with me because I’ve clearly been on a spiritual quest for a very long time. And while I may have learned a lot, I’ve somehow managed to miss the “Ah ha” transformative moment.
Maybe I missed it because I was looking in the wrong places for the wrong things.
Maybe I missed the forest because I was looking for specific trees.
I now understand that MY transformative experience has been and remains the journey itself. MY mountaintop experience doesn’t have to be a single defining moment. It can instead be a single defining life.
I’ve felt a call to share my journey with others. I’ve felt that this was the way that I could contribute most significantly to the human spirit and help to realize what Jesus meant when he spoke of the Kingdom of God being among us then – and now.
I now see that one way to share my journey is to begin by sharing my vision of my destination. After all, is it not the allure of the glory of the destination that motivates us to take the journey?