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What happens when God asks me to go beyond the superficial
Apparently God trusts me or something
“Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to burst. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them.” (Luke 5:5-7)
The Gospel for today, taken from the Gospel of Luke, is where we get the beautiful phrase Duc in Altum, or “put out into the deep”.
There is an immediate challenge here that Jesus has for Simon Peter. He tells Simon to put his fishing nets into the deep water and expect a great catch.
Simon, being the realist, tells Jesus that he’s tried… and tried… and tried. Yet we have to give this realist credit, because he relents and tries again one more time: “Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” (v. 5)
What happens next is unexpected, and you can almost see the cinematic montage play out in your head. There are so many fish — maybe even too many fish — and it becomes impossible for Simon to haul in alone.
When Simon realizes what has happened, he is overwhelmed by the power of Jesus as well as the realization of his own sinfulness: “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” (v. 8)
But here lies the great commission: Jesus, knowing full well who Simon Peter is and what he will eventually do, gives him the task of trading in his full-time employment and living for the sake of the kingdom, being a “fisher of men” rather than simply a “fisherman” (see v. 10).
When I consider what this Gospel means for my life, I’m struck by the fact that God actually trusts us. He trusts us to cooperate, He trusts us to act, He trusts us to dig deep and go beyond the shallow and superficial. Essentially, He is asking us to do the hard work and trusts us to actually do it.
The problem is that if I’m being honest, I hate hard work. Why do the hard stuff when you can skimp around and do the bare minimum?
But we know that we are never satisfied with that. There’s no sense of accomplishment that comes with just being okay. The climb, the journey — it all feels insurmountable or even foolish when we’re in the midst of it. But when we reach the summit or the destination, we find ourselves looking back and realizing that we are more capable than we think.
The thing is, God knows that all along we will choose shortcuts over the narrow road. And regardless of how many missteps or quick fixes we find, He STILL trusts us. But what is He trusting us with, exactly?
The miracle of our existence is so much more than simply existing… which is already a miracle. The fact that we can walk about in the world, interact with it and others, and have rational thoughts is already so much more than what the animals and plants can do. But to be able to flourish in this existence — to be privy to a life with purpose — is a miracle within a miracle.
And not only that, but God entrusts us with reaching that meta-miracle. He wants us to be fully alive and to see the goodness of everything He has to offer… if only we choose to dig deep and trust that grace is around the corner.
This isn’t an idle and passive waiting for “good things to fall into your lap”. It is seeking out what God has planned, asking for guidance, and acting in good faith and trust that He wants to do something miraculous in and through US.
Remember: this is the God of the universe we’re talking about here! He can and will do anything He wants to. And yet, He wants to collaborate with us.
Through the miraculous catch, Jesus worked through Simon Peter to show not only him but everyone around that Jesus was more than a good teacher. Through our own lives, we too have this opportunity to show others the power Jesus has… if only we are ready to say yes to the hard work.
One of my favourite quotes comes from St. Irenaeus which reads, “The glory of God is man fully alive, but the life of man is the vision of God.” When we are fully alive, fully actualized, that’s where God’s glory is found. I find it spectacular, almost unbelievable, that from the very beginning we were included in God’s vision for the world. There is something greater in us, something higher that we need to attain, and sometimes we catch ourselves coasting at mediocre.
The world keeps telling us to ‘live our best life’ and society keeps offering us suggestions like money, fancy things, power, influence, and sex — all of these which aren’t evil, mind you. But what if, at the end of it all, there is something, or someone, even greater than these? What if our best life is already within reach, we just need to dig a little deeper for it?
Things break, beauty fades, influence is fickle. But if you dig even deeper, what is it that you’re really looking for?
When you’ve worked all night for the world, and one day you’re invited to dig deeper beyond the superficial, I hope that you and I will take that moment to say yes — even if only tentatively — to see what grace is available to us when we give Him the space to work.
United in the Eucharist,