Saturday, 6 February 2010

Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch (Luk 5:4 RSV)

The Gospel this week is taken from chapter 5 of St. Luke's Gospel (Lk 5:1-11). Jesus is at the lake of Gennesaret and speaking to the people. A large crowd has gathered around Him: "[the] people pressed upon him to hear the word of God" (Lk 5:1).

There is a general line we can find in the Gospels - generally when a crowd is mentioned we find the people pressing around Jesus, eager to hear the Word of God. I think the interesting thing is that I think nothing really changed... I was at a talk given by Fr. Paul Murray OP last Thursday, an excellent talk on St. Thomas Aquinas and his contemplative life. At the end of the talk there was a bit of time for questions and one comment made was that "we should hear this stuff more often" and "that we usually don't hear this". From that point of view nothing has changed over the centuries, we are eager to hear the truth and it is hard to get to hear it, but we as humans are always yearning for the true Word of God.
It is important to realise this, as it might seem that the pews in the churches are becoming more empty every year. However, this does not mean that there is not a desire for people to know God. This desire is part of our nature, by us being made in the image and likeness of God. Contrary, I think there is more of a search for God than ever, with the only problem that it seems that people don't know where to search, or maybe even what to search for. The internal yearning is there, an incompleteness which is felt, a desire for union which, ultimately, only can be found in God. I think we can see this search around us, but sadly also see that people try and find ways to escape it, e.g. by the use of drugs, alcohol or even sex.

So therefore I think it is very important to bring the genuine message of the Gospel to the people. When the Good News is told people will come to hear it, the truth is recognised when it is heard even when it sometimes hurts. This does not only mean that the Church needs good preachers in the form of ordained ministers, but also, and nowadays maybe even more so than ever, preachers who are an example to others in their daily lives just by being a disciple of Jesus. It is necessary that Christians allow Jesus to bring the Good News to every part of society by their help.

But that is departing a bit from the Gospel. Jesus is on the shore of the lake and the people are crowding around him, so he asks one of the fishermen, called Simon, to get in his boat and pull out a bit of the shore so he could speak to the people: "he sat down and taught the people from the boat" (Luk 5:3 RSV). Then the next event mentioned is "when he had ceased speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch."" (Luk 5:4 RSV).

Simon Peter is asked to pull out into the deep and to let the nets down for a catch. Even though he didn't catch any fish the whole night, and is wondering why Jesus is asking Him to go now at this strange hour. But he follows the Lord command and responds "at your word I will let down the nets" (Luk 5:5 RSV).

I think that this shows that trying to work in the Lords vineyard is not always straight forward. It is always an element of the Lord asking us to do what logically might not always seem to us the most sensible or efficient thing to do. Rather than getting the nets in the boat, rowing out to the deep andgo to the intensive labour of fishing at a time and place probably very unsuitable for even catching one fish, we rather stay at the shore to plan for the next night. But the Lord asks us exactly to go out, to pull out into the deep, into the unknown, and to trust in Him.

It seems to me formost the trust in the Lord, and the obedience to His Word, that will lead us to "enclosed a great shoal of fish;" and possibly even to "beckoned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them" (Luk 5:7 RSV).

So what this Gospel said to me this week is to realise once more that God's people are searching, but that in a lot of cases they are like "like sheep without a shepherd" (Mat 9:36 RSV) and "the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few" (Mat 9:37 RSV). But if we try and listen to the voice of the Lord, he will guide us and tell us how we can work for Him, as He "send out laborers into his harvest." (Mat 9:38 RSV) This however often means that at some stage we have to make a cast into the deep, a step into the unknown, and trust in the Lord that whatever we do. He will bless our work and draw good from it, even if we don't see the fruits of it ourselves ("One sows and another reaps" (Joh 4:37 RSV)).

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