The Lord tells us in the Beatitudes, “Blessed are those who mourn.” It is a weird one I know. We expect peacemakers and the pure of heart, but does Jesus seriously want us to be Moaning Myrtle over here? Not according to Bishop Robert Barron. Bishop Barron offers this interpretation, “How blessed you are if you are not addicted to good feelings and pleasant sensations.” This addiction is obvious in the reckless pursuit of good feelings through so many methods. However, this addiction is in the Church as well. It is in our ministries, retreats, and youth conferences.
See, we go to our Encoutners and Steubenvilles; our NCYCs and Mission Trips and we encounter the Lord in a way that astonishes us. It floors us and blows us away. And we, rightfully so, mourn our sinfulness as we come face to face with the Living God. This moment of conversion, this moment of metanoia is powerful and hugely emotional and that can be so good! But grace is first a spiritual reality, not an emotional response. We might know this intellectually, but the temptation to doubt grace when emotion is absent is real.
In my own life, I’ve wondered what’s wrong when adoration doesn’t bring me to tears. I have had countless conversations with teens who want to know, “What if I don’t feel anything?” This is why Christ tells us blessed are those who mourn, so that we don’t confuse Him with a feeling.
Notice the parallel in this gospel passage:
[Jesus] said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Simon said in reply, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.” When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come to help them. They came and filled both boats so that they were in danger of sinking. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him (Luke 5:3-9).
The Apostles experienced this radical, world-changing man. It is more than the experience, though. What they did next is so significant:
Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him (Luke 5:10b-11).
They got off the boat.
We cannot be disciples if we remain addicted to the sensation of being saved. Certainly, we need the experience of being saved, but it needs to flow into us living from that salvation. When we become addicted to the sensation we never get off the boat. We stay there waiting for Christ to show up again and send us crashing to our knees. He doesn’t want us to stay on our knees, but wants to raise us to our feet so we can follow him. Please, partake in youth conferences, retreats, and mission trips, but do not forget to follow the Lord off the boat.