From the Pastor – February 10, 2019

After he had finished speaking, he 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 the boats 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.”

 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.  (Lk 5:4-8, 9b-11)

 You have to put this encounter between Simon Peter and Jesus in context.  First of all, Simon was a professional fisherman on the Sea of Galilee.  And the way fishing was done in that area and at that time was by throwing a cast net over fish in shallow water during the night.  So when Jesus arrives and tells him to go throw a net into the deep water during the middle of the day, it would be like telling a Louisiana fisherman looking for speckled trout to go up the Tangipahoa River!  It didn’t make sense.  The river water is too fresh, and not the right place to find speckled trout.  But there was something compelling about Jesus, and despite the protestation, Simon goes out.  Now imagine that Louisiana fisherman’s shock if he limited out on 6 pound specks in 10 minutes in the middle of the Tangipahoa River at night.  Peter knew it was impossible, and only God can do the impossible.  Knowing that Jesus is from God (he calls him “Lord,” which is generally a “post-resurrection” title for Jesus), Simon realizes that God has chosen his boat and him, and he becomes deeply aware of his unworthiness.  This is a characteristic of Jeremiah in the first reading and St. Paul in the second.  And it’s also a characteristic of most priests, including your pastor.

God chooses each of us to “put out into deep water” in a different way.  It may be by engaging in volunteer work to help those less fortunate.  It might be to teach the faith to others.  It might be to help the poor and the Church through charitable offerings.  And it might be to pray for those who need prayer.  We might resist it at first, and feel out of our “comfort zone,” but once we become aware that God is guiding our life and our mission, we begin to see the miracles happening.  It might be a miracle that we became friends with someone poorer than us.  It might be that someone unconnected to the faith ends up becoming a priest or a religious.  It might mean a newly renovated church or a medical miracle.  But putting out into deep water for the Lord means to trust ourselves entirely to His mission.  And that’s symbolized in the reading when Simon leaves everything behind to follow Jesus.

(Rev. Msgr.) Christopher H. Nalty