Fr. Michael Marcantoni is the priest at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Spirit in Rochester, NY. Originally from Puerto Rico, he is a Veteran of the United States Army, he has been married to his Presbytera Katherine from Arequipa, Peru for 10 years. They have two children. "Led by the Spirit" is presented to you to be practical, applicable spiritual guidance for the struggles of everyday life.
The Price of Success
It is possible that many of you have not heard of Dave Camarillo. His father had been a highly ranked Judo competitor and so from the age of 5 he was on the mat learning Judo with his dad and brother. By college he had made a name for himself in Judo, but a knee injury started to get into his way. He switched to Jiu Jitsu due to the lower impact on his joints and quickly dominated the landscape there winning many major international competitions. He then became the trainer and cornerman for some of the top name fighters in the UFC, Ultimate Fighting Championship in recent years.
The man is a champion, he has trained champions and because we all crave success we flock to be around such people, to learn what is the PRICE OF SUCCESS and how we too might to have it for ourselves.
These champions are in fact, perpetual “learners” and they define “success” very differently than we do. This same Dave Camarillo is quoted as saying: “Success is one of the worst teachers. It doesn’t necessarily teach you the most efficient way. And it clouds your weaknesses with the intoxication of winning”
I believe that St. Luke the author of today’s Gospel reading would agree with that assessment.
The Apostles were not always called the Apostles, that word Apostle means “those who are sent out” and long before they were sent out into the world to proclaim the Gospel they themselves first had to learn it. They were first and before all else-Mathitais-Learners/Disciples.
Jesus introduces Himself to the man who will be chief among them, Peter, not in the context of glory or joy but in the context of utter and abject failure. For Peter and his crew had been out on the seas fishing, they caught nothing and here comes this Jesus who lets out a boat, gives a lesson and then asks them to let the nets down again.
In this moment, in his exhaustion, Peter encounters Christ The Teacher, but just like us he does not encounter Jesus in his success and he does not encounter Jesus in ease and comfort. This encounter with Christ is only possible because just before it Peter has completely failed.
The problem in our Spiritual Life is not that we have suffering and disappointment, it is not that we do not pray or fast, the problem is that we quit too early. We have bought into a lie that says that seeking God should come easy, that the spiritual life should be easy and spiritual experiences should be floating from one beautiful moving Instagram moment to another.
But, like Peter, where we meet Jesus is in the place where we have been exhausted and failing. Our failing takes on many forms, it may be a relative that we just can’t keep our patience with, baggage we can’t get past, people we can’t forgive. Conventional wisdom tells us that it is time to pack up, time to turn the boat around, we’ve labored long enough.
We are tired, weighed down by heartbreak and disappointment, but I tell you greatness, championship and holiness is not built on success. It is instead built on failure after failure, after long fruitless night after long fruitless night. Faith is not built in ease, it is built in hardship and heartache. If life seems hard, I’ve got good news, you’re in the right place. Where you’re struggling and failing THAT is where Jesus is waiting to meet you, but if you give up when it makes the most sense to-you will miss him.
The price of success is failure
For By your patience you shall possess your souls
Originally Recorded: October 9, 2016
ABOUT FATHER MICHAEL MARCANTONI
Fr. Michael Marcantoni is the priest at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Spirit in Rochester, NY. Originally from Puerto Rico, he is a Veteran of the United States Army, he has been married to his Presbytera Katherine from Arequipa, Peru for 10 years. They have two children. Led by the Spirit is presented to you to be practical, applicable spiritual guidance for the struggles of everyday life.
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