A notable feature in today’s life is the apparent ease with which people change from one job to another, sometimes out of necessity, sometimes out of choice.
But change is not new.
Amos was a shepherd and a minder of sycamore trees when he answered the call to preach on behalf of the poor and of genuine religion. He had no time for prayers, burnt offerings, music or hymns when worshippers neglected justice. He was told go back to where he came from. They had enough prophets without him. Amos stuck to his task.
In today’s Gospel, Peter has a change of life; he, a fisherman, is told by a carpenter, Jesus, to go back and fish where he had laboured all night and caught nothing. As a result of his mighty haul, he was changed from being a fisherman to being a “fisher of men”.
Patrick was captured at the age of sixteen and sold into slavery. We are told that he spent six years shepherding swine and living rough on a cold, bleak Antrim hillside. During that time, not only did he learn the language and the customs of his captors, but in the silence and loneliness which surrounded him, he discovered God and the real meaning of prayer. He speaks of praying as often as 100 times a day and almost as frequently at night.
Eventually he made his escape and was reunited with his family. But all the time a dream about Ireland kept haunting him; in it he heard the voice of the Irish: We ask thee, boy, come and walk among us once more. He returned to Ireland.
Change can be life-threatening or life-enriching. It is not always wanted and can be extremely stressful. Many people find the prayer known as the Serenity Prayer, composed by the late American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, very helpful.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as he did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that he will make all things right if I surrender to his will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with him forever in the next.