Saturday, September 8, 2012
What! Go Out AGAIN?
This past Thursday’s gospel reading at mass was from Luke Chapter 5. Jesus climbs into Peter’s boat and uses it as a pulpit; afterwards he asks Peter “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Then, of course, comes the miraculous catch of fish.
But here’s something worth looking at: Luke tells us at the start of the episode that “the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets” when Jesus called them. Their day was over, and exhausted after several hours of fruitless labor they were washing their nets and thinking about nothing more than going home, having supper and falling exhausted into bed. Then Jesus tells them to go out again into deep water and look for fish.
Did you ever wonder what was going though their minds? At this point in Luke they haven’t met Jesus – it’s only at the end of this episode that they leave their nets to follow him. They thought their day was done and that their efforts were at an end. That was before Jesus showed up and changed everything. They found that their day was far from over, and that in fact the miraculous part was yet to come.
WHAT ABOUT YOU AND ME?
Some of us fall into the same mindset when we hit a certain age with its experiences of decreasing energy and decline in various abilities. We unconsciously (or consciously) decide that our day is over and there’s nothing more for us to do except watch the sun go down.
Some communities of religious fall into the same way of seeing themselves: their day is over, and everything is sort of fading away into oblivion as they sell off property and give up various ministries for lack of new personnel. They get the first part right when they face the reality that their community is getting radically smaller than it was in the early 1960s. But they get it wrong when they conclude that the day is done and that God has nothing left for them to do, so they can just sit and watch the sun go down.
People and communities who think of themselves as being at the end of their day need to be listening hard for the voice of the Savior as he challenges them the way he did those tired Galileean fishermen that afternoon so long ago: “The day is not over. I have something else for you to do. Something new and surprising. Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”