“Put out into the deep…” (Luke 5:4b)
In Sunday’s Gospel, we heard of those who “pressed upon” Jesus to “hear the word of God.” We learned of the fisherman, who despite having done things their way, put down their nets “At [Jesus’] word,” and finally how, “having brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.”
In the midst of this passage (Luke 5:1-11), Jesus tells Peter, “put out into the deep…” Jesus had taught the multitudes in the shallows; now he was going to demonstrate his power and authority to the few in ‘the deep’.
Now, as a rule, the saints counsel against the measuring of progress in the spiritual life—as such can lead to pride which, in turn, leads to deeper sin. Nevertheless, it is important for us to take spiritual inventory of our lives from time to time in order to grow. One might consider this ‘pruning’ as is necessary for trees to produce fruit. This sort of inventory is often a part of the preparation for confession, wherein we look back over the last days or weeks to take special note of our sin—in order to confess it and be made whole and clean. At a more basic level—the level of spiritual growth—we might simply look at our spiritual disciplines to ask questions and to set goals, just like in other areas of our life. Am I in the shallows? Was I in the deep and have drifted into the shallows by neglect, apathy, or sin? How can I, as St. Peter was instructed, put out into the deep?
How can I deepen my prayer life? How can I help my spouse to grow in Christ? How can I teach my children to love God more? Growth is the question. Someone once said, if we are not growing, we are dying…and there is a certain truth to that even with regard to our faith. Better though, is to see the Love and Blessings of God as a bottomless treasure chest. The deeper we dig, the more spectacular the jewels. Every time we think we have experienced the fullest amount of love from God, there is always another layer of depth. And always another after that. To return to the Gospel passage, there may be no fish, or few, in the shallows, but when the disciples put out into the deep, their catch strained their nets and nearly sank their boats. The pure marvel of it all is that despite our sinfulness, God continually invites us to that place. Which of us has tried life our own way and succeeded? Like these fisherman-disciples we have toiled ‘all night’ and caught nothing. Hearing Jesus’ call, let us, at His word, put out into the deep.