Put Out Into Deep Water

As Saint Pope John, II on the 6th January 2001, closed the Holy Door after the Jubilee year he signed a letter “Nove Milennio Ineunte” (At the Beginning of the New Millennium). In this letter he offered some reflections that would help the whole Christian community to “set out” with fresh enthusiasm. That was 21 years ago. The Pope reflected on the Gospel that we hear proclaimed today. Jesus gets into the boat of Simon Peter and talks to the huge crowd and when he finishes he says to Simon “Put out into deep water and pay out your nets for a catch”. The Latin for “put out into deep water” is “Duc in altum”.

The reaction of Peter is one of scepticism; “Master, we worked hard all night long and caught nothing, but if you say so, I will pay out the nets”. When he did this, he and his companions netted such a large number of fish that their nets began to tear so they needed help.

There are several movements in this story. The first is that Jesus gets into Peter’s boat. He has stepped into his life. Jesus then tells him to put out into the deep. Just as Jesus steps into Peter’s life so He will come to us. As one writer says, “this is an invasion of grace, Jesus coming to our life”. It is up to us what we do when Jesus asks us to put out into the deep for a catch. For us, the most important decision, is to whether or not to co-operate with Jesus.

He wants to always lead us into the depths. He wants us to journey from the shallows into the deep. He is inviting you and I into spiritual depths, into real spiritual transformation.

There is the temptation to acknowledge Jesus but then live our lives on our terms. We are happy as long as Jesus serves our needs. If we do this, we will catch nothing. We need to allow Jesus to get into our boat and do what he asks of us.

It is only after the large catch of fish that Peter fell at the knees of Jesus saying, “Leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man”. He became aware of his own sinfulness. It is the presence of Jesus, the light that make us aware of our sinfulness.

This catch was a windfall for Simon and his companions. Instead of making the most of this catch he left everything and followed Jesus.

Jesus’ presence in our lives will mean he is calling us from the shallows to put out into the deep. He is asking us, if we are willing, to let him be in charge of our lives. He is asking us to surrender to him. Jesus reassures us with the words: “do not be afraid.”

Lord, come into my life anew, come into my boat.
I am willing to put out into deep water, knowing my life will be enriched.

Canon Father Anthony Charlton
Canon Father Anthony CharltonParish Priest