“Put Out into the Deep!”
Discerning with the Word: A Guided Lectio Divina for Those Discerning
Introduction: At certain moments in our discernments, the lack of clarity about the path ahead and the letting go of past ways of doing things to make room for the “new” that God is working in our lives, can cause a sense of timidity, uncertainty, or fearfulness within us. Jesus reminds us, “Do not be afraid!”
(As noted in the Lectio Divina Guide for Those Discerning, a wonderful way of listening to the Lord—and perhaps the first that we should practice—is praying with the Bible through lectio divina. This guided lectio is provided to help those who are just beginning with lectio divina. If you choose to pray with this guide, I encourage you to go back later and pray with this passage from Luke on your own, using this simple guide.)
Lectio: Luke 5:1-11
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.
Read through this reading slowly and attentively at least twice. Take your time with it.
This reading has a wealth of meanings. For this lectio, let’s focus on three lines of the conversation between Jesus and Simon Peter:
- Put out into the deep
- Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!
- Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.
“Put out into the deep.” Up to this point in the Gospel of Luke, Simon Peter doesn’t know Jesus very well yet, except that Jesus healed his mother-in-law (Luke 4). It seems this is the first time that Jesus invites Simon to do something, and it is to step forward in faith in him. It’s an unusual request probably for a number of reasons; the impulsive fisherman mentions only two of them—the fish aren’t biting, and night time is better for catching fish. What is it about Jesus’ request or in his gaze that makes Simon Peter continue on, “…yet if you say so…” and follow Jesus’ invitation?
While Simon Peter was probably pretty familiar with the lake, I am not so familiar with “the deep.” It’s hard for me sometimes to follow Jesus’ invitation when I can’t clearly see the path ahead, when I don’t know “how deep,” or “how far” I’m being asked to go. But I have no need to be afraid because, like Simon Peter, I have Jesus in the boat with me. Jesus would never ask me to take a step forward in faith and then abandon me. He will be with me every moment of my discernment, every moment of my journey.
“Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” I really identify with Peter’s words as he witnesses Jesus’ goodness and miraculous power. Peter is in touch with his humanity and his sinfulness. And it’s fitting that we acknowledge our need for forgiveness, for conversion, not just in the challenging moments of our journey, but also in the seemingly miraculous ones.
The truth is that none of us are “worthy” of Christ. Yet our relationship with Jesus is not about being worthy, or becoming worthy. Our relationship with Christ is about Christ loving us first. Jesus is not concerned with “how” unworthy I am, because it only means that I am more aware of how much I need his saving love. And Jesus delights in saving us.
“Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” Jesus repeats “Do not fear,” in the Gospels over and over again. It might be tiresome to others, but for me, it’s a message I need to hear especially when I’m invited to take a step of faith, when I’m invited to “put out into the deep.” The reason we do not have to be afraid? Because from now on, we are Christ’s. When we belong to Christ, we can trust in his faithful love for us.
Christ’s invitation to follow him is implied here. And Christ’s invitation isn’t just for Peter alone. In essence, Jesus is inviting them, “Help me with my mission of ‘catching people,’ of attracting people to salvation in me.” It was an irresistible invitation for Simon and the other fishermen who were called.
Our call and our mission are so deeply connected that usually we cannot discern one without the other. Often, it’s just when we feel least worthy that Jesus calls us to share in his mission! And his call to us to be close to him is genuine: there is no way to draw closer to Jesus than by sharing in his thirst for others’ salvation.
“Put out into the deep water.” What is the “deep water” that Jesus invites me to? How do I need to change or grow to respond to Jesus’ invitation?
Oratio – Prayer To Live God’s Loving Plan
Lord, from all eternity,
You know me, choose me,
love me, and call me.
Every day You invite me
to a life full of joy, love, and meaning!
You call me to become more truly myself,
and more of You.
You who love me through and through,
and know every stirring of my heart,
have gifted me with a unique calling
where the world’s deepest needs
meet my deepest joy.
Grant me the openness to hear Your invitation,
the faith to trust Your love,
the courage to choose You, Master, as You have chosen me,
and a generous heart that falls ever more deeply in love with You.
Mary, God’s Mother and mine,
you joyfully and fully responded to God’s call in your life.
Help me to respond to God’s plan for me with all my being,
as you did. Amen.
Choose a way in which to respond to Christ’s invitation to you today in your daily life.
Note: I apologize for not posting the past week: I came down with the flu, and am only now feeling better. Over the next three months, I am doing some traveling for promoting my book, Soul of Christ: Meditations on a Timeless Prayer, but hopefully I’ll still be able to post three times a week… God bless you!