Thursday, September 6, 2007
"Put out into the deep..."
Today's Gospel is from Luke 5:1-11 and gives us several vivid scenes for reflection.
The first is on the shore of the great Lake of Gennesaret where Jesus is preaching the word of God. The crowd keeps pressing him and so Jesus sees that the two fishing boats nearby are empty and the fishermen are washing their nets. He gets into Simon's boat and ask him to put out a short distance. Then he is able to sit there and teach the crowds from the boat. The wind from the lake carries his voice.
After Jesus finishes speaking to the crowds, he says to Simon, "Put out into the deep water and lower your nets for a catch." Now they have worked all night and caught nothing, but Simon says "at your command I will lower the nets."
The Gospel does not tell us if Simon then called the others to get into the boat and bring the nets, but this must have happened for they rowed out into the deep and lowered the nets. Suddenly there were too many fish so their nets were breaking! They had to signal the other boat to come help them. They filled both boats with so many fish that they were in danger of sinking! When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the feet of Jesus and said, "Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man."
Simon Peter realizes that Jesus is holy; he knows that he is not worthy to even be in the presence of Jesus for he knows himself to be "a sinful man."
It was years before I understood why Peter would say, "Depart from me" as I would have said, "Stay with me, Lord!" When making a thirty-day retreat in the very place where St. Ignatius wrote the Spiritual Exercises, I had the same experience that Peter had. Jesus said to me, as he said to Peter, "Do not be afraid."
The third scene is, of course, when they brought their boats to shore. The Gospel just tells us that they left everything and followed Jesus. I guess my imagination has them walking off with Jesus leaving Zebedee with all the fish. Now the crowd presses around Zebedee buying fish as fast as he can give them out.
Jesus continues to call us to spread the Good News? HOw can I do this today?