Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.
When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink.
But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken;and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.
Up all night fishing to no avail. Exhausted, discouraged. Then Jesus comes along and says, “put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon—and I completely get this about him—retorts that he knows best, he’s been at it all night and caught nothing. “Yet if you say so . . . ” And then, nets so full they nearly sank the boats.
What was important was not that the apostles were well-rested, ready to go, had the best boats or the best nets, but that they were obedient, willing. The catch was abundant not because they had energy but because Jesus was with them, directing them. They were following his clear lead. They focused not on themselves or their own recent failure, but on Jesus.
Jesus, take me into the deep. In this day, show me where to follow your lead.
—Liz Kelly is the author of the award-winning Jesus Approaches published by Loyola Press and trained as a director in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.
Lord Jesus, we sometimes find it hard to let go of our own ideas and desires and turn our lives over to you. Give us the courage to say yes to you, even when it doesn’t seem to make sense. Help us to follow your invitation, knowing that you will bless our work abundantly. Amen.
—The Jesuit Prayer team
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