Listening to a Richard Rohr homily on Luke 5:1-11 (Don’t Be Afraid of Yourself), I could not help but overhear the implications for our journeys of and in spiritual formation.
Here is the reminder that Spiritual Formation (life with and maturity in God) is a matter of “Putting out into deep water, and letting down our nets for a catch.” (vs. 4) There’s greater depths to be engaged – without and within. “Earth is crammed with Heaven”… and so are you and I. Spiritual growth is a matter of hearing that call, accepting that invitation, and so venturing.
For all the ways it promises a great haul, it is not that easy. We have excuses on the front end. There’s something about Peter’s defensiveness that rings true with us today: “I have tried to no avail,” “I have been busy,” “my life is full.” (vs. 5) And, then, on the other hand, there’s a sense of unworthiness. “I am a sinner… I am unworthy… I am incapable of sustaining any real work with You in the depths.” (vs. 8)
To be sure, there are grounds for this reticence on our part—but not necessarily in the form we first imagine. It’s work that can threaten to swamp us. (vs. 7) If we aren’t careful, we might end up over our heads (and our hearts). (Which might be exactly what we need.) For this reason, Jesus — seeing through all the excuse-making — calls us, like Peter, to not be afraid. [vs. 10]
Not to be missed is the importance of community in the expedition. Not only are others the natural/instinctual go-to when we’re overwhelmed, but others are the ultimate and real end of our journey. “It’s not all about you, Peter. It’s not all about you, Jim. It’s not all about you,…,” Jesus says. “When I have completed my work, you’ll be helping others to be caught up in the depths.” (v. 10b)
Now, that’s something worth leaving home about! (vs. 11)