February 6, 2022 – 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/020622.cfm)
Although he was despised by his own people in his own hometown, Jesus continues on to proclaim God’s presence in us. Rejection did not deter and discourage him to move on with His mission of making God known and share Good News of God’s kingdom to all. Instead we hear him now going to other villages and inviting, calling them to follow and join him in his mission.
Particularly we hear today how he called Peter. He challenged Peter: “Put out into the deep, and lower your nets for a catch”. Now here is Jesus, an ordinary man – a carpenter’s son, who knows God but nothing about fishing, telling Peter – a seasoned fisherman who is having a bad day, to go fishing again. Peter may have normally reply: “Ano ka, hilo? Been there, done that. Time to pack up and leave.” But still Jesus challenged him, “Go out into the deep”. Surely there is more to Jesus’ words than merely about fishing. It also means: “don’t give up/ sail on/ try again/ please, give oneself, others and me anew chance/ go deeper”. These words also tell and teach Peter and us now about life and faith.
For why “go into the deep”? What is special about the deep? We don’t like deep waters because it is mysterious, dangerous, and risky. We rather go to shallow waters because we are safe, manageable and in our comfort zone. Shallow waters however are usually dirty and unclear, noisy, and loud, and above all, less possible catch, if none at all. Deep waters instead are usually clear and clean, calm, and soft, and above all, more possible catch. In other words, there is more life and faith in our deep than in our shallow fishing journey-expedition of life.
Somehow Jesus challenges us here to explore three depths in our experience of life. First, we are invited to explore the depth of our poverty, hopelessness, and helplessness. Peter was in a crisis situation, “no catch”, and about to give up. But with Jesus’ challenge, he goes beyond his misery and dare to do the unusual and unknown: “go again and deeper”, because of this, he never missed but instead have witnessed another life-opportunity ahead and anew. In the same way, in our hopelessness, helplessness, misery and crisis-situation, we are called to go beyond our comfort zones, and dare to try the unusual and unknown, and see better opportunities and possibilities than before. Again the invitation is, “if and when given another chance, would you do it again or anew, as before or better than before?”
Second, we are invited to go beyond the depth of our self-centeredness and explore the depth of our feeling and concern for others. Despite the possible threat of failure again and ridicule, Peter became self-less and still gave in to the somehow stupid request and crazy challenge of Jesus. Along with that, he also selflessly shared his great catch with others as he called his partners to help him and Jesus. In the same way, whenever we consider less about ourselves, we become aware of others.
And third, we are called to go beyond our unworthiness, and discover the depth of our faith in God. After the miracle of great catch, Peter fell down at his knees and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man”. Although we know how blessed we are, at times we cannot help but feel unworthy and undeserving of God. Even St. Paul and prophets felt the same way – that with God’s grace, we feel that we are weak, wrong, bad, unworthy, not fit or qualified and worthless. We may have felt this way, but we should also realize that all these blessings are not about us, you and me, but all about Him with us and us with Him. It is all about having faith in Him – being in relationship with Him for direction, resource and meaning. Yes, we may say: “I am not fit, unworthy, undeserving, and unqualified, BUT STILL I am called, invited, blessed and sent to be His fishing and life partner – “By God’s grace With Us, We are blessed and graced, undeserving we may be,” as St. Paul would say.
Thus, there is more to our helplessness, self-centeredness, and unworthiness, but better opportunities, more concern for others and deeper faith in God.
As we begin another (Chinese) New Year: Anew Chance again to make Life Better for you, for others and Him, may we be trusting and daring enough to heed Jesus’ challenge for us to: “Put out into the deep and lower our nets” to the great catch of blessing offered ahead of us. Amen. P.S. On a personal note, I am bracing myself these days for anew chance of catch in Iloilo soon. Recently I had a great time of catch in my home city Davao, which has blessed me much. But another & anew chance is inviting, bye Davao for now & hello again Iloilo.