The webpage of the Youth Ministry of the Irish Province of Augustinians

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time - 7th of February 2010

Dom Helder Camara, the famous bishop of Recife in Brazil quoted today's gospel passage when addressing Church leaders in Brazil.  The phrase he quoted was the sentence of Jesus: "Put out into the deep".  He was calling on the Brazilian Church to be courageous in its witness to justice and in its service of the poor.

In so many ways it seems as if the Church in Ireland has lost heart.  The Ryan Report, the Murphy Report, the bickering among bishops and the increasingly evident distance between certain bishops and their clergy all add up to a malaise which can seem paralysing.  Like the apostles, the Church has worked long and hard in the service of the people in our parishes and our communities.  In recent years this work has had to adjust to a changing social scene characterised by less stable family units and increasing individualism - both of which make the task of building up a community extremely difficult - not to mention building up a Christian community.

Recent events, inevitably, lead many to say, like the apostles: "We have laboured all night and yielded nothing."

Jesus' response to this, very human experience, is extremely challenging.  He tells them to put out into the deep.  Don't stay where it is safe by the shore.  Leave your comfort zone and head out to where the waters are even more unpredictable and threatening.

Of course the important point is not so much putting out into the deep - it is about putting out into the deep because that is where the Lord is sending us.  It is about putting out into the deep because we know the Lord is with us.

The Irish Church, in 2010, can decide to stay in its comfort zone.  It can continue to say masses for dwindling congregations and to perpetuate structures that have been shown to be increasingly inadequate for the needs of our modern Church - the Church is the People of God, not a small group of bishops or clerics.  However, to stay in that comfort zone would be to be unfaithful to our very name as Christians.  We are the Body of Christ, we incarnate the message of Christ in a world that often finds it difficult to find hope and meaning.  We have a responsibility to proclaim that message where it would otherwise not be heard.

In today's gospel passage we see Jesus under pressure from the people who want to hear his message.  They want to hear it because they have heard about it. 

In so many ways we are called to make people aware of his message by the way we live.  By the way we treat others at home or in business; by the way we forgive and become forgiven; by the way we take account of those who are in need in our communities; by the way we refuse to accept intolerance and bigotry.

This is what putting out into the deep can mean for us.  It can mean leaving the safe, comfortable, predictable world of religious practice and entering the much more difficult and challenging world in which we commit ourselves to put our religion into practice.

If we can move from religious practice to putting our religion into practice then we will, really, become fishers of men.


Article posted on 4th of February 2010

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