God calls us in the workplace

By Vinal Van Benthem | For The Compass | May 2, 2019

If there was ever a reading that spoke eloquently about the spirituality of work, it’s this one. “Simon Peter said, “I am going fishing.” Why was Peter going fishing? Because he was a fisherman! Jesus was dead, and their hope of a Messiah with him, so the disciples decided to go back to doing the same work they had been doing before. But something had happened – and nothing would ever be the same again.

“[C]ast the net over the right side of the boat.” Peter and the others must have been pretty desperate to take directions from a total stranger. But then, the usual way of doing things didn’t seem to be working. Maybe that’s why they were willing to take a risk.

Imagine what would happen if the night janitor were to tell the computer programmer, when his computer has crashed, to unplug it, turn the plug over and plug it in again. Most likely the computer expert would tell the janitor to go find a floor to wax.

But Peter didn’t do that. Maybe it was something in Jesus’ voice, some authority. Or maybe the disciples were just more open to unusual occurrences in the workplace than we are. After all, hadn’t Jesus called them all when they were at work? Most likely the computer programmer has never had that experience. Most likely the computer programmer would expect a call from God to come in church. But Jesus approached the disciples in their workplace — and in their workplace told them to work differently. And that’s when the miracle happened.

Miracles do still happen – in research labs and hospitals, in classrooms and operating rooms, in foster homes and nursing homes. Miracles happen wherever and whenever people hear God’s voice where they work and respond by working differently.

“Simon … (or Margaret, or George), do you love me?” Jesus invites us to follow him even in the workplace. Are we willing to think outside the box? Are we willing to work differently? Or would we rather just go back to working as though Easter had never happened?

Van Benthem is a longtime pastoral minister in the diocese.

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