Monday, May 15, 2023
Fr. Matthew Gomez - The Archdiocese of Miami
I would like to begin this blog post with a disclaimer: I am not an expert.
Now that we have gotten that out of the way, allow me to say that I have been thinking about a concept that has gained popularity in recent years and was a theme of many different talks during the Lenten season: Swimming against the current.
Swimming against the current may sound odd to many of us who have the beach nearby. We first recognize that rip currents are dangerous. Every year many people caught amid rip currents do not survive precisely because they are swimming against the current.
Research suggests that there are multiple ways to get out of a rip current. The first one is to swim parallel to the shoreline, because the rip current is usually between 50-100 feet wide — ridiculously small compared to the size of the beach. Once out of the current, the individual can swim back to shore. Another school of thought is to float with the current until it fades away; then, swimming back to shore will be simpler although the distance will be a little farther. The last way to avoid a rip current, usually in deeper water, is to dive deeper into the water until the water temperature changes. Then again, swimming becomes easier.
Again, I am not an expert. But I bring these points up because we are living in a very secularized culture. It is quite easy to say we need to swim against the current of the culture. The reality is that if we try to swim against that current, even if we are doing it together, we will get tired and give up, or worse, die. The three tips for getting out of rip currents can be used as well by those of us who are trying to go against the culture.
We can overcome the current of the culture by either sidestepping away from it or letting it take us far away. But if I may, I would like to emphasize the importance of the last tip. To go deeper is one of Jesus’ invitations to his disciples. In Luke’s Gospel, right before Jesus calls Simon, he gets into the boat and tells Simon to “put out into deep water” (Lk 5:4). Seeing the number of fish he catches after following Jesus’ command, Simon has an easier time following him. By trusting Jesus and putting his nets in deeper water, Simon is able to have his conversion experience and follow the Lord.
My brothers and sisters, the way we swim against the current is not by going against the current but by going deeper than the surface of the water. The current is usually superficial, but the Lord invites us to enter deeper into his merciful love.
We all have a responsibility to engage the culture. We must bring the light of the Gospel to those who do not know it or may have forgotten it. If we die because we are exhausted after swimming against the current, who will spread the message?
The words of the prophet Isaiah must be ours as well: “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?’ ‘Here I am,’ I said; ‘send me!’ (Isaiah 6:8).
When we hear the voice of Jesus calling us, we must enter into a deeper encounter with him so as to know his perfect plan for our lives. He calls us to duc in altum. How will we respond?
Jesus reminds us in John’s Gospel: “You do not belong to the world,” and “I have chosen you out of the world” (Jn 15:19). We do not belong to this world but we are in it, which means we need to engage with the culture. When we are able to see the Truth, the Beauty, the Goodness, the Oneness of God even in the midst of this secularized world, and when we are then able to share with the world that Truth, that Goodness, that Beauty and that Oneness, that’s when we change the culture.
Sharing those transcendental characteristics of God can be challenging but when we realize that Jesus is with us and he calls us deeper into his love, we can swim against the current.
Let us make a resolution to dive deeper into the Word of God, to dive deeper into personal prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament, to dive into faith formation to know more about our faith. The deeper we go, the easier it will be to proclaim to the world that Jesus is alive and risen from the grave.