Homily for February 10

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Homily for the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Scriptures for today's Mass

When this gospel story comes around
it often occasions a homily on vocations to ministry,
following on Jesus’ telling Peter, James and John
that they would no longer fish for fish
but now for a catch of men, women and children
to follow the path of Christ.
But there’s another very important line earlier in this story
which deserves our attention and which, in fact,
is critical if we’re to understand the fishing image.
And that’s when Jesus calls us to “Put out into deep water…”

Deep water is darker, more ominous and threatening.
Deep water is farther away
from the safety of the shore and the harbor.
Deep water, simply on account of its dark depths,
is more unknown, more mysterious, more impenetrable.
Have you and I ever “put out into deep water?”
Some here might be too young to have done so.
Many of us, however, have known this experience.

Let me offer some examples.

- Proposing marriage and taking a spouse -
that’s putting out into deep water.

- Moving far away from home, away from family and friends,
that’s putting out into deep water.

- Having children, adopting children, fostering children
and taking on the responsibility of raising children -
that’s some of the deepest water you can find.

- Choosing among several treatments
for a critical or life-threatening illness: that’s deep water.

- Changing jobs, changing careers, deciding to retire -
all these can be likened to putting out into deep water.

- Choosing to follow Jesus, choosing to live by the gospel,
choosing to live in the shadow of the Cross:
the Cross is on dry land but it represents death,
the deepest of all the waters where the ship of life brings us…

The thing about these deep waters
is that we can choose steer our course in that direction -
or we can choose not to.

Jesus invites others to put out into deep water:
he doesn’t force or compel us - he invites us.
He invites us to waters
whose depths and mystery are unknown to us.
He invites us to trust that in just these waters
he will be our guide, our navigator, the captain of our ship,
our life-guard, ready to rescue and save us.

So, that’s what the scriptures invite us to consider today.
We’re invited to reflect on the different ways in our lives
that we’ve put out into deep water,
to reflect on how freely and willingly
we’ve given ourselves to this effort.

- Have we sailed from the safety of the harbor into the unknown
or have we, in fear, clung to the shore line?

- Have we taken in a good catch in those deeper waters
or have we found ourselves in a storm at sea?

- Have we clung to Christ our captain in the gale winds,
depending on and trusting in his care for us?

- And where now, regardless of my youth or my age,
where now are the waters where the Lord is calling me
to “put out into the deep?”
What catch, what harvest might he be asking me to bring in?

When God called Isaiah to be a prophet, he was at first frightened
but finally said, “Here I am, Lord - send me!”
Jesus plumbed the deep waters of death to rescue and save us
and now calls us to follow him through the death to life, forever.

At this altar, his table, he nourishes us for the journey.
Pray with me that each of us might answer his call, saying,
 “Here I am, Lord - send me!”

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