Read­ing Time: 9 minutes

(Ref. Texts: Isa 6:1–8; 1Cor 15:1–11; Luke 5:1–11)

Isn’t it time to stop wish­ing, com­plain­ing, mak­ing excuses and point­ing fin­ger? Your des­tiny calls for you to give your dream the actions that it des­per­ately needs. Dig deep to dis­cov­er your hid­den abil­it­ies and strength to always per­severe” (E. Mbiaka).


Duc in altum – put out into the deep! Jesus’ sole mis­sion con­sisted and still con­sists in teach­ing people the right way to wor­ship God; how to relate with one anoth­er; how to relate with the entire cre­ation; how to live a bet­ter and ful­filled life; how to man­age author­ity; how to build a happy and suc­cess­ful fam­ily; how to attract God’s bless­ing; what to do to avoid God’s anger; how to inter­pret and actu­al­ize the law; how to obtain sal­va­tion and etern­al life; and so many oth­er things. Jesus trans­forms every place into a classroom. He knew the crowd were really like sheep without hon­est and pre­pared shep­herd, hence, he tries to fill the gaps in their lives with and through his excep­tion­al and spir­it-filled teach­ings, often rejec­ted by those in authority.

Hav­ing stated his mani­festo and mis­sion, Jesus can now invite people to put out into the deep for bet­ter res­ult. As Jesus stated, his mis­sion con­sists in bring­ing Good News to the poor; pro­claim­ing liberation/freedom to the pris­on­ers; to the blind the recov­ery of sight; to send the oppressed away/free; to pro­claim the year accept­able to the Lord (Luke 4:16b-20). This is why the Spir­it of the Lord has des­cen­ded upon him, and for this he has anoin­ted him. Duc in altum is invit­a­tion that fol­lowed the rejec­tion of Jesus and his teach­ings by his fel­low coun­try-men and women. It is the inab­il­ity to dig deep and see bey­ond the mater­i­al that made them ques­tion his author­ity and attemp­ted throw­ing him down from the cliff.

In the Gos­pel of last Sunday, we heard how Jesus was rejec­ted in his homet­own of Naz­areth. In the verses that fol­low, Jesus travels to the town of Caper­naum and begins his mis­sion of teach­ing. While in Caper­naum, Jesus cures a man pos­sessed with a demon and heals Simon’s moth­er-in-law. After spend­ing some time there, Jesus left and taught in oth­er towns and vil­lages. Let us not for­get that Jesus had pre­vi­ously been in Simon’s home and healed his moth­er-in-law too. In this Sunday Gos­pel, their rela­tion­ship keeps devel­op­ing. Our rela­tion­ship with God must always grow stronger.

Jesus teaches

And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, Jesus stood by the lake of Gen­nesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but 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” (Luke 5:1–3). Jesus went about the towns and vil­lages of Israel teach­ing. It is inter­est­ing to note the con­clu­sion of Luke chapter four. Luke reports that at day­break, Jesus went out to a lonely place to reflect on his mis­sion and how best to bring it to ful­fil­ment. Luke says the people searched for him and when even­tu­ally they find him, they attemp­ted pre­vent­ing from leav­ing them.

Again, Luke says that Jesus insisted on leav­ing with these words “I must pro­claim the good news of the king­dom of God to the oth­er towns also, because that is why I was sent” (Luke 4:43; cf. also Mark 1:35–39). Luke con­tin­ues and explains that Jesus kept on pro­claim­ing the good news in the syn­agogues of Judea. The implic­a­tion is that Jesus left the people who tried to stop him. It was after this going away from the people and teach­ing in their syn­agogues that Jesus came to the Lake of Gen­nesaret. And here, he con­tin­ued teach­ing the people the right way to wor­ship God and the true inter­pret­a­tion of the Word of God. Here, he taught the crowds from the boat. Interesting!

Duc in altum!

When he had fin­ished speak­ing, he said to Simon, put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch. And Simon answered, Mas­ter, we toiled all night and took noth­ing! But at your word I will let down the nets” (Luke 5:4–5). Peter and his com­pan­ions have toiled the whole night, but could not make any catch. Jesus ignored them and star­ted teach­ing. It was after the teach­ing that he ordered Peter and his com­pan­ion to put out his net into the deep water, that is, to lower his net for a catch. If we were to be Jesus, we would have acted dif­fer­ently. We would have spec­u­lated on why Peter and his com­pan­ions could not make any catch. But Jesus ignored him and star­ted teach­ing. What did Jesus teach the crowd, Peter and his companions?

Among oth­er things, he must have taught them the need to spread the Gos­pel, and that doing the will of God is more import­ant than catch­ing fish. This is evid­ent in Jesus’ words to Simon: “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catch­ing people” (Luke 5:10). The mighty catch Peter and his com­pan­ions made was an allu­sion to the num­ber of believ­ers they will be gain­ing for God as a dis­ciple. Jesus teach­ing the crowd and the dis­ciples indic­ates the pro­cess of evan­gel­iz­a­tion and cat­eches­is. People must be giv­en adequate pre­par­a­tions. It is only with prop­er teach­ings that we can make people have matured faith and under­stand cor­rectly the king­dom of God and the con­di­tions for inher­it­ing it. Speak­ing about the neces­sity of remain­ing in God, Jesus reminded and said to the dis­ciples and Chris­ti­ans “I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do noth­ing” (John 15:5). The only way to bear much fruit is to remain in Jesus which impli­citly means remain­ing in God. And remain­ing in God means avoid­ing super­fi­ci­al­ity. That is, dig­ging deep into the know­ledge of God and the Gos­pel of salvation.

There is also anoth­er import­ant les­son from Jesus’ words to Peter to put out his net into the deep. Most often, we humans depend solely on our human capa­city, intel­li­gence, under­stand­ing and riches. There are people who lament that des­pite their efforts, they can­not achieve any­thing. Well, it is not enough to make effort. One has to see if his/her efforts are going in the right dir­ec­tion. It is true that Jesus said ask and it will be giv­en to you. Remem­ber, you must ask the right per­son, at the right time, with the right lan­guage and with right inten­tion. We must cul­tiv­ate the habit of seek­ing for the advice of someone who knows bet­ter. Some people do not suc­ceed in life due to their pride. Peter must have stayed awake for the whole night, try­ing to make some catch. But he might have been put­ting his net in the wrong direction.

But at your word…

When Jesus asked Peter to put out the net into the deep, Peter replied “Mas­ter, we toiled all night and took noth­ing! But at your word I will let down the nets” (Luke 5:5). Although Peter and his com­pan­ions have toiled through­out the night without mak­ing any catch, yet, because Jesus has spoken, he obeyed and let down the nets. This is both faith, hope and obed­i­ence at work. But at your word…. There is power in this expression.

At times, some people lament they make effort without see­ing the res­ult of their effort. It is not enough to make effort. It is also import­ant to ensure that my effort is on the right dir­ec­tion. Peter and his col­leagues may have stayed awake through­out the night, but they effort were not dir­ec­ted on the right path. It needed Jesus to cor­rect them and indic­ate to them the dir­ec­tion their effort should focused.

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