As a child growing up around Lake Erie, there were many occasions to set out early in the morning on one of the many fishing boats. And as may be there were times when we sat out all morning with nothing to show for our efforts. Professionals we were not. And as we came to shore we were exhausted for our efforts. None of us would even think about going out again that day!
In our Gospel today, we find Jesus sitting in Simon Peter’s boat after the crowds have gone. Jesus knows that Peter is exhausted from his own efforts at fishing all night. He knows that he has caught nothing, but even still he turns to Peter and invites him to do something. “Go out into the deep water,” he says, “and there let down your nets.” It sounds pretty simple doesn’t it? But is it really? What is Jesus really asking here?
Jesus is asking Simon Peter to trust him. To trust him so much that Peter would be willing to leave the shallow places in his life and in his work and begin to explore the depths. To go to the limits of what he thinks is possible, not only for him but for those all around him. “Go out into the deep water,” says Jesus, “trust me and see what happens.”
Peter becomes a model for discipleship. It happens in the moment when Peter responds to Jesus’ call and says, “but, if you say so.” Then off he goes—perhaps reluctantly—out into the deep water and there he finds abundance like he has never imagined.
Jesus doesn’t call Peter to be anything other than who he is. He doesn’t call Peter to be a rabbi like him, or even to a career in carpentry. Jesus calls Peter to live in the depths of his own life, not to try to live out Jesus’ life. Peter remains at heart a fisherman who has a heart for Jesus and for the humanity that Jesus serves.
For most of us, Jesus does not come in dramatic ways. Rather, he comes in the ordinary events of the day. Our ordinary daily living can be a radical response to Jesus. The Good News is that God calls us as precisely we are and works through our humanity.