Christ does not force our will, He only takes what we give Him. But He does not give Himself entirely until He sees that we yield ourselves entirely to Him. -- St Teresa of Avila
Gospel text (Lc 5,1-11):
While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God,
he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret .
He saw two boats there alongside the lake;
the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets.
Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon,
he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore.
Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.
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."
For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him
and all those with him,
and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee,
who were partners of Simon.
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.
If you are like me, you are tempted daily to stay in the shallows, to stick to the familiar and the comfortable, to resist deep diving. Isn’t that why our efforts are so fruitless, even frivolous, like the apostles: “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing!” Could it be the reason our apostolic labors are often so fruitless? Both in the spiritual life and in our ministerial labors, thirst is everything, depth is essential, wholeheartedness is crucial. It is true that we cannot, by ourselves, take one step up. God has to lift us up. But we can always go closer to the earth, lower, deeper, to the roots (radical) of our humanity (in suffering, compassion, solidarity, down deep into the ocean of our humanity.) There we will find not only our divine DNA, but also that of everyone else. Only there will we be true “fishers of men (and women and children).”
It is so clear: we have to “come after Him,” even as He has come after us. It’s not enough for any one of us to be the fish only, we have to also be the fisherperson. It’s not enough for us to be lost sheep found only by Him, we have to be shepherds too. Every single one of us! Isn’t that why our beloved Church is going through such a crisis right now? She is still trying to keep most of us sheep when God’s Spirit is impelling us to be shepherds!
Paul says it so very well to his sisters and brothers in Colossae, praying for those “God delivered from the power of darkness and transferred to the Kingdom of God’s beloved Son,” praying with such relentless longing and tender care, praying for us as well as for them: “that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding … in every good work bearing fruit … strengthened with every power .. . with joy giving thanks to God, Who has made us fit to share in the inheritance of the Holy ones in light.” (Colossians 1:9-14)
Let us join our prayers with his, remembering always that we have to be willing to go down into the depths, if we want to share the deep wisdom of God’s Spirit working always in all of creation!