“Put out into the deep and let down” (Luke 5:4)
Today’s three readings of the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C from Isaiah 6.1-8, 1 Cor. 15.1-11 and Luke 5.1-11 invite us to drop below the surface and to live with more depth, consciousness and meaning. Jesus’ invitation to “Put out into the deep and let down … nets for a catch” is an invitation to self-knowledge and holiness/interiority. It is also an invitation to self-knowledge and integrity. There is the commitment to go deeper into ourselves, and allow the transformation of our inner chambers through the grace of God. Commitment to growth in self-knowledge and holiness exacts a price. But are we ready to pay for it? As clearly as the Lord calls us to get deeper into our being and to allow His grace to transform us, there are a lot of resistance from us like Peter “Master, we worked hard all night long and caught nothing.” Today we leave in an age that is driven by what we may call “solution seeking mentality, religiosity and spirituality” but there is a necessary task in our spiritual lives that we have been neglecting. Therefore, there is a call from God to his people for a discovery of our inner limitations and potentials and it is either we react or respond to His invitation.
The message is that the Christian spiritual life is a journey from the surface through the self to discover hidden treasures within the self and ultimately God. Properly understood, the Christian spiritual journey is from the outside into the inside and not the other way round (cf. Matt. 15:10-20). This is a journey that is a must for us but many are not willing to undertake it, hence they are overpowered by vices instead of virtues. There is so much that has been deposited in us. Accordingly, St. Paul says, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (2Cor. 4:7). Our physical bodies are like jars that are carrying our limitations, our potentialities, our destinies, our strengths and the glory of Christ. Therefore, we need to go under it and discover the aforementioned elements. This inner journey entails a trek that follows three steps: Self-awareness, self-acceptance and self-transformation. At the level of self-awareness, it is coming in touch with our thoughts, intentions, feelings and tendencies. It is getting on our knees through prayers and humility like Simon Peter. And the outcome would be like the saying of Isaiah and Simon Peter. For Peter says, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” To be honest, this could be painful and confusing but the Lord would say “Do not be afraid. I am with you. I am going to make someone out of you.” At the level of self-acceptance, the grace of God gives us the strength to own up our true self. This is what we hear from St Paul in 1Cor. (15:9) “For I am the least of the apostles and am not really fit to be called an apostle…” Finally the trek in the spiritual journey leads us to experience grace of God that leads us from the stage of self-acceptance to a stage of self-transformation. A transformation of a lower element to a higher element. This is the stage where Abram becomes Abraham (Gen 17:5); Jacob becomes Israel (Gen 32:29); Saul becomes Paul (Acts 13:9) and Simon becomes Peter (Lk 5:8; Mt 16:18). Thus, following Jesus’ invitation to go deeper can bring us an amazing discovery of the kingdom within. It is in this light that the Priest and mystic Teilhard de Chardin encourages: “Let us leave the surface, and without leaving the world, plunge into God.” Happy Sunday and God bless your week and enterprises. Amen.
Fr. John-Mary Atep