Launching Into the Deep


The Gospel of Luke 5:1-11

At that time, Jesus was standing by the lake of Gennesaret. And he saw two boats by the lake; but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had ceased speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a great shoal of fish; and as their nets were breaking, they beckoned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he was astonished, and all who were with him, at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men.” And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.


Very often in the Gospels Jesus would use images that his listeners would understand, or at least he would hope they would understand.  In this pericope used on the 18th Sunday after Pentecost the image of fish and fishing is employed to make a point about what we are all supposed to be doing.

Jesus has just finished teaching and he asks Peter, and a few others, to get in their boats and to “put out into the deep” and drop their nets.  At first they protest as they had been out all night and were understandably tired but Jesus asks them to trust Him and so they do as He directed.  Eventually they pull in more fish than one boat can handle and they need assistance from others to help them pull in the nets.

St. Ambrose viewed this image of putting out into the deep as the call for all of us to put out deeper into our lives with Christ.  As Christians we are required to do something, to take action, not only in the world but in our own lives.  It has been described as a Christian walk and as such we need to keep moving.  Sure we stop and dwell from time to time, but the essence of our Christian life is movement and growth.  We are constantly being called to move deeper and deeper in our relationship with Jesus because if we don’t we have stopped walking and we are standing still.

We do not live our lives in isolation we live them in community be it family or be it the Church community.  As Christians we cannot walk our walk alone, we need the support of the community and the support of a Spiritual Father to help us along the path we are on and if need be, put us back on the path.

Peter has the realization that he has come face to face with the Divine Power, mush as Moses did when he came into the presence of the Burning Bush.  He fell to his knees and asked Jesus to depart from him because of this realization that he was unworthy.  How many of us have felt that way?  Peter came to the realization that he is not worthy but we, who know the end of the story, know that God can use us worthy or not, for great things if we have the willingness to say yes and to launch out into the deep and cast our nets.

The glory of our Christian life and walk, if we are in fact walking and standing still, is that little by little we do become worthy if we want to become worthy.  Thanks be to God He can use me even when I am at my weakest and when I am broken.  God used Peter, who denied Christ, God used Paul, who persecuted and killed multitudes of Christians for good even in their brokenness.  They were willing to be used and that is what need a willingness.

The fisherman had worked a long had night and they were tired all they wanted was to fix their nets and go home and get some sleep.  They were beaten down physically by their hard work and emotionally by the fact that they did not catch anything.  Jesus asked them to trust Him and to try again and because of that trust and obedience to the will of God, they caught more than they could handle.  They were willing and obedient and were used for great things.  The great catch of fish is symbolic of the work that they would do for the kingdom of God.  Simple tired and worn out fisherman set the world on fire because they were willing and obedient.

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