To “put out into deep water”

Introduction: In Luke 5:1-11, we find Jesus preaching the people who were following him from Capernaum to the lake of Gennesaret, there He meets fishermen on their boats mending their nets. He teaches them and works a miracle before them, he does it in order to prepare them to make a response without hesitation to follow him. As you read the text notice what feeling or emotion emerge from you as Jesus interacts with Simon and his companions.  Stay with it and at the end of your ‘Lectio Divina’ try to see what Jesus is revealing to you. 

1.         Read: read the text of Luke 5:1-11 slowly and listen attentively with the ‘ear of your heart’. What word, sentence or phrase stands out for you?

2.         Reflect: read the text again and pay attention of what touches you; why is it meaningful for you. What thought or reflection comes to you. 

3.         Respond: read the text again but this time respond spontaneously to the word of God. In other words, make a dialogue with God what comes from within you. What gift does this text lead you to ask for from the Lord?

4.         Stay with the Word: read the text a final time and rest in the word. Allow God to speak to you in deep silence. Do not say anything just listen to God’s words. What is He saying?

5.         Take now the word, sentence, or phase, into your daily life/activity; allow it to become part of you. Always listen to it, reflect on it, pray over it and rest on it as time allows during the day. Then allow the Word leads you to action.

Conclude your ‘Lectio Divina’ with the ‘Our Father’…

Reflection: Jesus continues his preaching from the synagogues of Judea to the lake of Gennesaret where he stopped with the crowds following him and pressing around him listening to the word of God with delight and amazement. The scenery of the lake described by Luke, will be of vital importance because it will describe the call of the first disciples of Jesus and their mission. They were ordinary people living ordinary lives as fishermen, some were married and some others still young. The text does not say how many were there but only three are mentioned by their name. Perhaps we can take the place of the anonymous ones and listen what the Lord has to say to us.

Central Message: “Put out into deep water and pay out your nets for a catch” ”… “Master, we worked hard all night long and caught nothing, but if you say so, I will pay out the nets” … “When they had done this they netted such a huge number of fish that their nets began to tear”… “When Simon saw this he fell at the knees of Jesus saying, ‘Leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man’”… “Do not be afraid; from now on it is people you will be catching”… “they left everything and followed him”.

Main points:

a)         “Put out into deep water and pay out your nets for a catch”  Jesus caught sight of two boats near the bank and he chose Simon’s. Perhaps Jesus knew perfectly well what they have been through as they caught nothing all night. There was obviously frustration, tiredness and disappointment, for they had nothing to bring to their families back home or sell the fish to get the money to provide with goods for their loved ones. As Simon’s allowed Jesus to be in his boat it is already significant because it reveals that Simon allowed Jesus to enter into his own life and let him be in control of it. He became the captain of the crew so to speak. So, Jesus ordered him to ‘put out into deep water’, that is, to go beyond his comfort zone into the unknown, in the depths of his interior life where there it will be revealed the abundance of the generosity of God. The only thing Simon must do is to surrender and let Jesus take control of the situation and of his own life and obey his words accepting the challenge to go to the unknow places of his interior life where he has not reached or visited yet for one reason or another. For fear to the truth? Or for the shame to know who he really is. What new things did he discover of him, what did Jesus pull out of his hidden treasure?

b)         “When Simon saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus saying, ‘Leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man”. Simon already recognises Jesus as his Master and Lord when he ordered him to put out in deep water. Although being expert of his office as fisherman, Simon did not argue with Jesus about his expertise and when, where and how to fish, rathe, he obeyed him saying “if you say so I will put out the nets”. He totally trusted him because he knew that everything is possible for Jesus. Jesus, too, trusted him because he knew Simon’s capacity to respond to what he was going to ask him. So, as he already surrendered to Jesus, he had no other alternative but to trust in his words. Then, they caught a huge number of fish that the nets were about to tear. At last Simon’s and his companions faith and trust have been rewarded abundantly. This however reveals how generous the Lord is for those who trust in him. Sometimes we work hard, and it seemed that we don’t get the fruits or results we expect. But God is always at work even if we don’t perceive him.  Seeing the miracle, Simon recognises his limitations and sins, his dark and shadow side of his inner life. He pleads to the Lord to stay away from him for he is a sinner. Simon shows his humility by accepting his past life that he discovered deep down of himself as he met Jesus. Consequently, he bows himself to the one who can cleanse and free his sinfulness and fears.

c)         “Do not be afraid; from now on it is people you will catch”… then “they left everything and followed him”. Jesus perceives Simon’s fear as he has opened the story book of his entire life. But Jesus gives him affirmation with his consoling and encouraging words “do not fear”, and then gives him his mission: “for now on it is people you will catch”. Jesus is inviting Simon to use his skills of fisherman to draw people to God, to use his experience to help other who need mercy and compassion. Simon will become a better Apostol as he accepts his weakness and limitations which will help him to understand those he is sent to. He and his companions had no problem in leaving everything behind to follow Jesus: wife, mother and father, siblings, house possessions, work etc. The meeting with Jesus and the miracle of the catch had transformed their lives which have made them to take a radical decision of their lives, that is, to follow him. it was something that they could never forget. From Simon’s boat, Jesus spoke to the crowds; from our own lives he speaks to people today.

Some questions for our reflexion:

  1. How would it be for you if Jesus comes to the boat of your life and ask you to go into deep waters?
  • What areas of your deep life you want Jesus to visit and take control of?
  • What do you fear most of your entire life? Can you allow Jesus to come to you and confirm you that you are not alone?
  • What have you left to follow Jesus? What do you find difficult to leave to follow Jesus?

"Lectio Divina", a Latin term, means "divine reading" and describes a way of reading the Scriptures. Open ourselves to what God wants to say to us.

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Father Rubén Padilla Rocha