If at first you don’t succeed…

Written on: February 8, 2019

“Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” 

This is one of my favorite Gospel readings. In Luke 5:1-11, the apostles have spent a long time fishing without much to show for it. Exhausted from a day on the sea, they are cleaning and mending their nets when Jesus suggests that they do it all again.

“Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” 

How many times have we felt like a Roomba vacuum that keeps bumping into the same walls? And, how many times have the wiser people among us suggested that in order to fix a problem, we “go back and try again?”

In my personal and ministerial life, I have often heard these words whispered during prayer.

  • As a mom raising 4 children and at the end of my patience…
  • As a vocation director when months of conversation with a discerner suddenly stop…
  • When caring for my Mom, who suffers from dementia, begins to feel like the movie Groundhog Day…

I hear those words, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”

I have come to understand, that this is not an exercise in frustration, like the Roomba. But rather a call for me to go deeper into whatever I am experiencing. To see another aspect, to notice the gap.

Jesus asks the Apostles to “go deeper” and the water they go into is the deeper, hidden parts of their lives, their center of truth. It will be in sharing this deepest part of themselves, their truth found in the teachings of Jesus, that their words will resonate with others and be attractive to others. Uncovering our “God-self” creates the special types of relationships we long for- with others and with our selves.

A surface reading of this Gospel may come across as a call for the apostles to find more apostles, or priests to find new priests. However, there was no “priesthood” in the way we know it today, when Jesus spoke the words, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”

Jesus’ words urge each of us to “catch” the attention of others by how we live. That’s what the Apostles went on to do, and that is the same call we share today.

So, go deeper. Go back to whatever you find frustrating in your life and go deeper. See it in a new light, approach whomever or whatever it is with a different heart, mind and action. The effort will be worth it.


Maryellen Glackin is the Director of Social Media Communications for the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart. Maryellen has ministered with families affected by AIDS, with long-term volunteers, as a counselor and for the last 18 years as a director of vocations. She is also a wife, mother and grandmother, and a daughter who is caring for her mom with dementia.


One thought on “If at first you don’t succeed…

  1. Eileen White says:

    Beautiful reflection, Maryellen! Thanks for sharing it with us. I’ll be incorporating your invitation (Jesus’ invitation in my life today) into my own prayer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Grey Nuns