Duc in altum “Put out into the deep for a catch”

by May Tam
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Isaiah 6:1-2A,3-8

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Luke 5:1-11

In his apostolic letter Novo MillennioIneunte, St John Paul II recalled the fishing incident in today’s Gospel Reading. From it, he called for “a new stage of the Church’s journey” (par 1), the journey of continuous work of evangelization: Duc in altum“Put out into the deep for a catch” (Lk 5:4). Little did Peter know that his obedience had brought in its first catch, “they left everything and followed Him” (Lk 5:11). Neither too could he and his companions imagine two thousand years later, the story of their catch continues to inspire the missionary life of the Church.

It all began with Peter, an experienced fisherman who listened to a carpenter’s son of how to fish in the midst of his frustration and tiredness. His obedience and trust opened the door to the miracle. But more noteworthy was Peter’s response which resembled that of Isaiah (First Reading) and Paul (Second Reading). Isaiah felt his unworthiness when he saw the greatness of the Lord in the temple (Is 6:5) while Paul felt unworthy because he had persecuted the Church (1 Cor 15:9-10). Peter too felt that he was not worthy to be in the company of Jesus because he was a sinner. Each of these three was overwhelmed by the holiness and the grace of God and yet, all of them had become servants of God.

God’s transforming power reminds us that in every time and at every place, God calls us to be His instruments. Unlike the fish caught by the disciples which will end up dead, we are to “catch people” alive and bring them into the kingdom of God where they will be free from sin and receive life. Jesus’ reassuring words of “Do not be afraid” (Lk 5:10) are resonating in us today the way they resonated in Isaiah (Is 41:10, 54:4), in Mary (Lk 1:30) and in Joseph (Mt 1:20). St John Paul II concluded the Novo MillennioIneunte with these words: “Let us go forward in hope! A new millennium is open before the Church like a vast ocean upon which we shall venture….....……The missionary mandate accompanies us into the Third Millennium and urges us to share the enthusiasm of the very first Christians” (par 58).

Let us not be afraid then, duc in altum! Put out into the deep and make our catch!