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  • Writer's pictureDavid Carlson

693 “Put out into deep water… and do not be afraid.”

Day 693: Monday, February 7, 2022

“Put out into deep water… and do not be afraid.”

Jesus said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”

Simon said in reply, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing,

but at your command I will lower the nets.”

When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing.

They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come to help them. They came and filled both boats so that the boats were in danger of sinking. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”

Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid


Years ago, I had a student in class that I can recommend to you all. She was a woman, married with a few kids getting into their twenties. In class, she was always precise and articulate in discussing difficult ideas. She had a good head for theology. But what I found most impressive about her was her ability to respond to the ideas I was presenting in class by telling stories about what she had witnessed as a woman of faith in this complex world.

She was a great storyteller.

One evening, walking back after class to my office, I asked her, “Do you preach? I think you would be good at giving homilies.” My student was shocked. “Father, I’m a Catholic. I'm not allowed to preach.”

I told her that, with her clear thinking, her gift for theology and (above all) her ability to tell stories, she should give preaching a try.

A year or two later, on the day she graduated with her MA in theology, surrounded by her husband and her kids, she said to me, “You know, Father, in class you said many challenging things. But you said one thing that was more than just challenging, You said something that was downright frightening.” I guessed what was coming next. “You said that I would be a good preacher.”

Today, I want to say that my student’s fear is yet another indication that she would be a good homilist. I good homilist should know what we used to call, “the fear of God.” My student is a woman of faith. She is articulate. She has a wealth of experience as a wife and mother and volunteer. She has a good head for theological thinking. She is a great storyteller.

And, in addition, she has a fear of God. This too is an indication that she would make a good preacher. I say this because the Lord God seems to favor fearful people for the task of preaching His Word.

Look at the Gospel. Jesus is preaching by the shore of the Lake of Gennesaret and there is a crowd so large that Jesus must get into a boat to preach. The boat belongs to Simon, whom Jesus will eventually rename Peter (petrus means “rock).

Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. After Jesus has finished speaking, he instructed Simon Peter to “lower your nets for a catch.”

Simon Peter is weary and dispirited after a long night, but ultimately obedient. There is a miraculous catch. But it is Simon Peter’s reaction that fascinates me:

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”

Like Isaiah, Simon Peter is aware of his unworthiness and is filled with fear. Jesus simply says, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men." Peter and his companions leave everything and follow him.

There is a little detail in the story of the call of Peter which needs our attention. After finishing his preaching, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Put out into deep water.”

I suspect that this is why my student was fearful when I suggested that she might make a good homilist. I was inviting her to “put out into deep water.” In the Catholic Church, women are not allowed to preach. What would people think (and say) if my student got up and preached? What would she say if she were given the opportunity to preach? Who is she to even think she could serve the community as a homilist? All these things were going through my student’s head. But, in addition, in her heart, there was also the fear of “putting out into deep water.” Responding to grace can be frightening.

Pope Francis is calling us to become a synodal Church – a Church of dialogue and mutual discernment – a Church where all the baptized have a ministry. We need to build a Church where the many gifts of the Holy Spirit are recognized cherished. We need to build a Church where everyone is able to contribute to the community in keeping with the Spirit’s gifts.

Most of all, we need a Church where we stand with one another, as humble pilgrims on the path together, and help one another to hear the voice of the Lord saying to us,

“Put out into deep water… and do not be afraid.”

Announcement - Please Join Us

Join us on Saturday, Feb 12, 11am - 12:30pm PST for an interfaith vigil to remember the 80th Anniversary of Executive Order 9066 signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt that led to the mass incarceration of 120,000 mostly Japanese Americans. This shameful part of American History must be remembered to ensure the survivors stories are not forgotten, and this injustice is repaired.

During Black History Month, while we remember this legacy in the Japanese American community, we will also be calling for solidarity with: Reparations for African Americans and Stop AAPI Hate. Let us acknowledge that U.S. imperialism globally, xenophobia, and systemic racism have all been common threads that weave our struggles together, historically and today.

We invite people of all faiths, cultures, and traditions to join us!

Speakers include:

· Jeff Matsuoka, San Francisco Bay Area Day of Remembrance Committee

· Chizu Omori, Tsuru for Solidarity

· Tara Umemoto, Berkeley Buddhist Temple

· Rev. Marjorie Wilkes Matthews, Plymouth United Church of Christ

· Prof. Russell Jeung, Stop AAPI Hate

· Chanton Bun, Asian Law Caucus

Songs, cultural offerings, and prayers by:

· Ito Yosakoi

· Rev. Harry Bridge, Buddhist Church or Oakland

· Rev. Theon Johnson, Downs United Methodist Church

· Elijah Chhum, Center for Empowering Refugees and Immigrants

· Minister Cherri Murphy, Faith Alliance for a Moral Economy



The vigil is co-sponsored by: Buena Vista United Methodist Church, Tsuru for Solidarity, San Francisco Bay Area Day of Remembrance Committee, Berkeley Buddhist Temple, Pine United Methodist Church, East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy, Faith Alliance for a Moral Economy, Sycamore Congregational Church UCC, CERI - Center for Empowering Refugees and Immigrants, and Plymouth UCC

Pleaseviewand share our flyer!

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