SEPTEMBER 2, 2010 – 1 COR 3: 18-23 ; LUKE 5: 1-11


MYSTERIOUSLY THE MIND of man functions diversely in each of us. The same words often have widely different significance for the persons who hear them. This diversity of understanding remains the case even when the listeners all speak the same language and understand the definition of each of the terms spoken. Each of today’s readings brings this reflection to my mind as I considered these passages that are familiar to all of us here. Indeed, it is often the more familiar sayings that have the greatest diversity of significance precisely because we associate them with ideas, images, or experiences that are more personal and subjective, evoking thoughts that derive from circumstances that live in memory that lead us to draw lessons that would not occur to others who hear the same words. Such impressions may seem to have little connection with the intent of the author and yet have a stronger, more beneficent effect on the person who reacts to them idiosyncratically.


It was my own highly subjective line of thought upon today’s Gospel passage from Saint Luke’s account of the miraculous catch of fish that led me to these reflections on the way our minds function in practice. As I came across Jesus’ recommendation to Peter, “go to the deep water” there came to mind the Latin version of these words that had somehow seemed to me to bear much significance. I no doubt had heard them in the liturgy many years ago as a young monk: Duc in altum. Literally translated it says: “draw into the deep.” Obviously, the meaning of this phrase in the story is clear. Peter is to fish in the deep waters of the lake, which, is very deep in fact, and not without risk. 


These particular Latin words that arise from long hidden memory, have a spiritual resonance, as often is the case with Sacred Scripture. They invite us to seek in the depths of our own interior, in the hidden places of our heart. It is there that the Lord has stored up for us an abundance of life that awaits our bold and eager quest if we dare to risk enter into these deep waters of our interior life. What we encounter there is often disconcerting, even threatening. For Peter too lowering his net in these deep waters nearly caused his boat to sink, and the catch proved more than he could handle alone. He needed help from his companions to follow up and beach the catch, we are told.


Of course, this large number of fish in the net of Peter is also a symbol of the many conversion to the Church he was to contribute to after the resurrection. But that was to prove possible for him only after his failure to stand firm caused him to enter his heart  with deep remorse and confront there the hidden attitudes and dispositions that resulted in his denials. His acknowledgment of his sinful failure was painful but proved salutary. Having taken responsibility for his faults, he returned with renewed faith and deeper trust in our Lord’s loving mercy, and was not deceived in his hope of forgiveness. After receiving assurance of God’s favor, he never again wavered and proved steadfast even unto death.


May the grace of this Eucharist enable all of us here to enter into the deep where God’s light and grace awaits us.  For there in the deep place of the heart he dwells, as Jesus assured he would, so as to remake us and prepare us to become citizens of the Father’s kingdom. &.   

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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