Daily Reflection
September 7th, 2000
Ray Bucko, S.J.
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
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First Corinthians 3:18-23
Psalms 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
Luke 5:1-11

When I have prayed with Lakota (Sioux Indian) people on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, I frequently heard the works “Omakiya yo” ­ help me.  In researching the documents of past missionaries and scholars who worked among the Lakota I was amazed to find that this prayer was also said in their rituals as far back as we have written records.

"Help Me” is a rather counter-cultural refrain in a world that stresses individualism and independence.  It’s an acknowledgement of weakness and incompleteness.  Yet this is precisely the confession of Jesus in today’s gospel when he asks Peter to help him—help him deal with the crowds, the demands, the intensity of the thirst and hunger the people have for the word of God.

So Peter answers Jesus’ prayer and puts out to sea.  In return, Jesus test’s Peter’s ability to be helped by asking him to put out to deep water (go over your head—another dangerous cultural move in today’s world) and cast your nets.  Although Peter is convinced by experience that this will be futile he trusts Jesus and does as he asks.

We cannot ask for help unless we trust.  On the reservation where I lived it would be very strange for people not to help a relative or anyone in need.  I was constantly amazed that people who had so little by modern standards were willing to give up all they have for another—to help.  This is truly an act of faith and trust.

It’s a pretty courageous thing to trust enough to ask another, to ask God for help.  Yet Jesus does this with Peter and, strengthened by the presence of his Lord, Peter in return does this with Jesus—and is abundantly rewarded with a mission (to be a fisher of people) and an abundance of sustenance (the miraculous catch of fishes).

Paul invites us to become fools so that we can truly be wise.  What could be more foolish in today’s modern world than to ask for help, to depend on others, to depend on God?  Yet this is precisely the invitation of faith—to reach out to the community around us and to God to ask for help.

Omakiya yo!  Help me! 

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