PUT OUT INTO DEEP WATER”
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Scriptural Readings: Isaiah 6:1-2a, 3-8; Psalm 138:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 7-8; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, or 15:3-8, 11; Luke 5:1-11
My dear encountered couples:
“Put out into deep water,” Jesus told Peter, “and lower your nets for a catch.” Peter wasn’t too keen on that idea. “We have been hard at it all night long and have caught nothing,” he told Jesus, “but if you say so...” Peter thought it was a waste of time to do what Jesus said, but he went ahead and did it anyhow. That was perhaps the smartest thing he ever did. It is the smartest thing we can do too.
Do you ever wake up in the morning only to remember that there is something you must do that you really don’t want to do? There is a problem you must face, an obligation you must take care of, an appointment you must keep, a person you’d rather avoid - and you want no part of any of it. If only you could go back to sleep and dream all those things away. “Put out into the deep,” Jesus tells you. “Lower your nets for a catch.”
We must live by faith. If we really want to be successful in life, if we really believe in Christ as we often profess we do, if we want to grow in holiness, arrive at perfection, and enter heaven a second after we die, we must live by faith in God our Father, in Jesus our Brother, and in the Holy Spirit the Power of God within us. “Give us this day our daily bread,” we pray with a sigh when we get up in the morning. God will do just that if we just get ourselves out of bed, trust him, and get on with another day, even though it might feel like we are putting out into the deep.
Every day, no matter how routine each one might start out to be, contains within it the unknown and the unexpected. If we don’t want to face surprises not always pleasant on our own, if we are unsteady, if we are frightened, then we are very wise to place our confidence in God to see us through it all.
I think Isaiah in our first reading was a man who would rather have stayed in bed. He saw and heard something that seems to have greatly unsettled him. “Whom shall I send?” he overheard God asking. “Who will go for us?” God the Father asked his Son. God was looking for someone to be his prophet who would speak to the Jewish people. “Woe is me,” Isaiah answered. He was beginning to suspect God had his eye on him. “I am doomed,” he said to himself, “for I am a man of unclean lips.” What was he to do? What did God do? Go look for another volunteer?
“Then one of the seraphim flew to me,” Isaiah recalls for us, “holding an ember which he had taken with tongs from the altar. He touched my mouth with it. ‘See,’ the angel said, ‘now that I have touched your lips, your wickedness is removed, your sin purged.” After Isaiah was touched by that angel, he was ready to volunteer himself to go forth and speak to the Jews in the name of God.
“Here I am,” he answered in response to God’s question of “Whom shall I send?” “Here I am, Lord, send me!”
Isaiah was well aware of his unworthiness, he realized his sinfulness, he felt inadequate for the job. The bottom line was he was frightened to death of being a prophet. But once he trusted that God loved him and forgave him his sins, Isaiah went out into the dark, frightening world hand in hand with God, and became one of the greatest prophets mankind has ever known.
Then in our second reading we find St. Paul recalling how he had persecuted the Christians. And while doing it Jesus appeared and gave him a challenge. He wanted Paul to go preach to the Gentiles, non-Jewish people, about the Good News. How could he do a thing like that? he wondered, after he had sinned so grievously. “1 am the least of the apostles,” Paul tells us. “In fact, because I persecuted the church of God, I do not even deserve the name. But by God’s favor I am what I am.”
Paul threw aside the covers, so to speak, and hand in hand with Christ, went to unknown and frightening places he had never gone before, and converted more people than anyone can number. Because of his faith Paul became one of the two central pillars of the Church; Peter is the other one. Our gospel tells us about Peter.
“Put out into deep water,” Jesus told Peter, “and lower your nets for a catch.” “We have been hard at it all night long and have caught nothing, Lord, but if you say so… “We know the rest of the story. Peter, the fisherman, caught a breaking net-full of fish that day, after which Jesus said:
“Do not be afraid. Follow me, Peter. From now on you will be catching men.” Along with James and John, Peter “left everything and they became his followers.”
Like I asked: Do you ever hate to get out of bed in the morning? Not because you are still tired but because there are things you must do that you don’t want to do? You don’t feel you can handle them, you feel inadequate. And you pray, “Please, Lord, get somebody else. let me be” You hit the snooze button.
What if Isaiah, or Paul, or Peter, had rolled over and closed their eyes to what God wanted them to do? We all have fears, we all feel unqualified, we all wish the unpleasant things of life would go away. But they can be the very things God uses to make saints out of us. If we wish to grow up, if we ever expect to mature and be our age, we must get out of bed when the alarm first rings, and into the world. We must do the good things God wants us to do. He is depending on us. So is the world.
What does God want you to do with your life? It might not seem as great as what God wanted of Isaiah, Peter, and Paul, but to God you are vitally necessary to the success of his plans. If you roll over and go back to sleep, maybe one less person in the world will get the benefits God has in mind for him or her. What if your reluctance to do God’s will deprives someone else of the helping hand, they need? We are all called by God to do something. It takes a lot of faith and trust that he will supply us with whatever it takes to do that something.
Peter thought it was a waste of time to go fishing again, but he trusted in Jesus and rowed back out into the deep water. That was perhaps the smartest thing he ever did. It is smart for us to do that too. Oh, how we hate to get up in the morning, but let’s do it anyhow. God is relying on us. Let us rely on him.