"Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” (Luke 5:4)
Ever since I can remember, my father has been taking me fishing. Now that I'm a priest, we usually do it in the summer when I'm on vacation. We've fished from piers, bridges, beaches, skiffs, big party boats and our own personal boat. We always go to the Florida Keys and never stray too far from shore choosing to fish the back country which is always fun. This past summer we were blessed with a week of unprecedented great weather. Great weather for fishing means having no wind. We've never spent a week with no wind in the Keys, but that is what the Good Lord gave us. The first morning we were there my father kicked me out of bed and simply said, "Let's go fishing." Again, not a drop of wind and my father plots a course on the GPS out to the Atlantic Ocean. Now I'm not necessarily afraid of the sea, I just have a profound respect for it. My father wanted to go fishing for big yellow-tail snapper, so we were going into very deep waters that were unknown to me that were normally very rough and choppy. But not on this day. The sea was calm. As soon as we dropped the first line, we got a bite and then another and then...well it was as close to the miraculous catch in the Gospel as we were gonna get. We spent five and half hours out there with no wind, in the scorching sun, reeling in fish after fish. Unfortunately, because of Florida Wildlife Laws, we couldn't haul in enough fish to cause the boat to sink, but we did do enough damage out there that we were thoroughly satisfied with the catch. All because we put out into deep water. Even though it is unknown, there is always something joyful and satisfying to be found there.
The Lord is inviting us to go to the deep water this Sunday. We cannot accomplish much staying close to shore where we are comfortable and feel safe. We need to be challenged and that is what Jesus is doing today. We have to deepen our faith, abandon the status quo, throw our nets down to see what blessings we will catch.
To use another timely analogy on this Super Bowl Sunday, Jesus wants us to "go deep." In football, the safe play is to run the ball, play it close to the vest, throw short passes. But every now and then if you want to be really successful, you have to throw the ball deep to stretch the defense and look for the quick score and allow you to run other plays more effectively. Of course, going deep has risks, but the rewards are great. Those teams that play it safe and can't go deep don't make it very far.
God has a plan for each and every one of us especially as we get ready to begin Lent on Wednesday. To deviate from it is to go against his will. He wants us to go out into the deep, unchartered, and unknown waters. There we will find great blessings and the ability to deepen our relationship with him. Will it be challenging? Will we experience some fear as the disciples do? Yes. But if Jesus is calling us into the deep, how can we possibly be afraid of where is inviting us to go? It was only out in the deep that Simon fell to his knees and realized the possibilities, unworthy as he was, of a relationship with this Jesus. Imagine what God has in store for you if you get our of your comfort zone and allow him to lead you out into those rich, bountiful, and teeming deep waters.