If you have ever been a sports fisher and you have spent time on the water trolling for your meal you will know that going down into the depths to catch your fish requires specialized equipment including perhaps a fish finder and depth finder as well as a down rigger or some other apparatus to set the bait at the right depth. It is certainly more complicated and time consuming then dragging a lure behind the boat on the surface or near the surface. If you are interested in hooking a certain species of fish or a large fish you will often have to go deep.
Angling in the deep applies to other aspects of our life as well. In an earlier blog, I write about the importance of relationships [Discovering the Hidden Treasure]. If we are to be true to a relationship we need to avoid the surface and endeavor to relate to our friend well below the surface and that means asking deep questions. A good example and one shared this past Sunday morning at our Mass celebration in Keremeos by Fr. Harry Clarke, the Pastor, involved an adult child questioning her mother about her ministry work at her local parish. The mother was very involved in Catechesis. The child asked her mother how she was enjoying her ministry work and whether or not new responsibilities she had taken on she found rewarding or stressful. Of course on the surface Mom found nothing particularly unsettling about the question. Her daughter was curious. The mother would have preferred her daughter to have focused on the reason for her ministry work. If the question had been framed in that way she would have been given an opportunity to evangelize her daughter by pointing out that her ministry work gave Mom the opportunity to develop her relationship with Jesus by being the hands, feet, voice and heart of Jesus to those with whom she came in contact. In short, it would have been a teaching moment and the focus would have been on the relationship she enjoyed with Jesus and the importance of that relationship to Mom, a relationship she was most anxious to share with her daughter.
If you are like me, you have had to struggle with the temptation to treat religion as a hobby. The hobby can include numerous ministry assignments and the social interaction that goes with it. It need not be approached at this level however. In this past Sunday’s gospel reading [Mark 10: 17-30] Jesus encounters the rich young man who wants to know what he has to do to attain eternal life. As the story unfolds we discover that the young man has kept the commandments but Jesus tells him that he lacks one thing and that to solve the problem he needs to sell his possessions, give the money to the poor and follow Jesus. When the young man heard this he went away grieving as he had many possessions. The point that Jesus makes here is that relating to Him on the surface is not sufficient nor is it satisfying. We need to go deeper in our relationship with Him and when we do that our ministry efforts take on a totally different character. They cease to be hobby like and begin to look like an effort to relate to a friend who loves us. In short, they become a labor of love.
In our busy lives we often find it difficult to allot the time necessary to nourish our important relationships. Many of us remember the glow of first love with our spouses and how easy it was to allot time and energy to building that relationship because we were motivated. If you are having trouble going deeper in your relationship with Jesus, ask Jesus for the grace you need to angle more deeply that you might really get hooked.