On 5 February, 2019, at our CLC group’s first meeting of the year, Tony Santospirito read the coming Sunday’s reading, Luke 5: 1-11. That even-ing I see the crowd pressing round Jesus, listening to him. See the two boats on the bank, the fisher-men washing their nets, Jesus getting into Simon’s boat and asking to be put out a little from the shore, then Jesus sitting down and teaching the crowds from the boat, the people hanging on to every word that comes from his mouth. Then Je-sus asks Simon to put out into deep water. Simon replies that it is pointless, ‘we worked all night long and caught nothing.’ But he felt impelled to put out into the deep and was rewarded with an unbelievably huge catch. I see the nets begin to tear, and both boats are filled to sinking point.
The catch is so huge that it fills Simon Peter with awe and at the same time, fear that he is not wor-thy enough to be in such company. So huge that instead of asking Jesus to continue helping him with his business of catching lots of fish, which I would have done, Peter has the courage to leave everything and follow Jesus to be ‘fisher of men,’ whatever that might involve.
At the meeting, Tony asked us to consider what God is calling us to despite our weaknesses. I like his referring to the ‘sinfulness’ that Peter con-fessed to as ‘weaknesses’. How often have I thought that I am not capable of responding to God’s call because of my weaknesses!
I found the passage so rich that I decided to use it for my parish Scripture reflection group the following Monday evening. One person, a nun, shared that the passage is about God’s call; every morning, she re-flects on God calling her to do little things during the day, it does not have to be big things that God calls us to, it can be little things.
I like the passage so much that I read it for my parish meditation group before we began meditating. After meditation, we listened to a talk on CD by John Main, who said that meditation is leaving the shallows of our lives and going into our depths. I had not known that there would be a connection between the gospel reading and his talk. It is remarkable how all things spiritual connect together. John Main’s talk provided another way of looking at this passage, the shallow and the deep water. Peter, James and John must have put their nets out into shallow water all night and caught nothing. Jesus told them to put out into deep water and there was a huge catch. Similarly, we could be living our lives in the safe, shallow water and find little meaning, fulfilment and purpose in it. Jesus tells us, ‘Put out into deep water … Do not be afraid.’ He invites us to dare to put out into the deep, pay attention to our depths, which is our centre, our heart, and there to find the huge catch, which is the Spirit of God in our hearts, revealing to us our ‘self-worth, dignity and loveableness.’
Project 171 reminds us of our universal ‘call to deep-en, share and go forth’. We reflect on the call of Mo-ses in the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-8). Jesus calls us to ‘put out into deep water,’ that is, to ‘deepen our identity through inner conversion’ (Projects 171) which is an ongoing, unending process throughout our lives. We are like the boy with the five loaves and two fish; small in quantity though they are, unworthy, sinful and weak though we are, in collaboration with God, when we go forth and share the loaves and fish we have, our gift of Ignatian Spirituality and other gifts, they will be multiplied, not through our own efforts but by the grace of God.
Susie Hii (VIC)