Hopefully we are transiting from the pandemic to an endemic. In its wake, our lives were all turned upside down. For most, it was, and remain, a period of challenges. Below the surface of our lives, there are perhaps unanswered questions thrown up by the mystery of this virus. Digging below the surface, some may want to return to a fuller and more intentional faith life, probing into the question of who and where God is.
“He said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water and pay out your nets for a catch.’” (Today’s Gospel)
Now is a good season to reach out to returning Catholics. Returning Catholics are we who have been away from church, and her life, for some time but are now contemplating a return. This invitation to return is one of many questions that is below the surface of our lives. It is good season to put out into deep water and pay out your nets for a catch.
Landings is a ministry reaching out to and welcoming back returning Catholics. The spirituality of casting our nets into deep water is very rich. The method is effective and has transformed the lives of many returning Catholics, filling each with peace and purpose.
The method involves casting the net into the deep waters of our personal life. It visits the past events of our life story. There are many chapters we do not quite understand, some we are even unwilling to read again. There are episodes of pain that need healing, and there are episodes of shame that need reconciling. All these we haul up with the help of the ministry, our fishers of men. We sort out the catch. Jesus smiles. He has surprised us in our own net.
When God calls us to return, he is inviting us to come closer and have a look. This method helps us to see our life story as our faith story. God wants to reveal himself hidden in the little details of our life. His presence has been constant throughout our personal history, and it is time to heal the pain and reconcile the shame. It is time to bring to surface his personal relationship with us.
“When Simon Peter saw this he fell at the knees of Jesus saying, ‘Leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man.’”
Many returning Catholics approach in trepidation. We drag in our nets articles we would rather hide from him. We approach with a combination of guilt, shame, and unworthiness, wondering if God even remembers us. But returning Catholics are always surprised by the magnitude of God’s generous love where they find no need for personal accountability as there is no judgement, only affirmation. This welcome is so overwhelming, enough for us to cry out, “Leave me Lord, I am a sinful person”.
“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying: ‘Whom shall I send? Who will be our messenger?’ I answered, ‘Here I am, send me.’” (First Reading)
The returning experience is powerful. Many returned to find themselves not merely settled down in the pews for mass but are so fired up that they want to be sent to be fishers of men to help the many others out there to cast their nets into deep waters. Returning Catholics have left their nets of old and become preachers of the Gospel in a way only they themselves know how. Like St Paul, returning Catholics can be entitled to feel this way:
“I am the least of the apostles; in fact, since I persecuted the Church of God, I hardly deserve the name apostle; but by God’s grace that is what I am, and the grace that he gave me has not been fruitless.” (Second Reading)
In this season, a ministry reaching out to returning Catholics should be in every parish. It is time to realise and recognise this need. “Do not be afraid; from now on it is men you will catch.” They cannot haul up their nets on their own.
5th Sunday in Ordinary Time