Empty handed is the experience that any agricultural professional knows devastating when nature strikes. Farmers know that nature dictates the final outcome of their crops. Gusty wind or hail can destroy the crop within a blink of an eye. Nature actually has a final say in all professions. For instance, in aviation when the sky is too windy or too cloudy, it is unsafe to fly. For surface travellers it is unwise to make a trip on a rough sea. The fishermen in today's reading laboured very hard all night. They were exhausted and had caught nothing. They went ashore empty handed. Jesus told them to cast their nets in deep water and they had a huge catch. It made them understand that underneath deep water things are not always the same. Change happens without their knowledge. The sea had no fish before and they could not understand how, it now had so many fish and they were ignorant of it. The deep water remains a mystery.
We all have experienced what empty handed means because it is very close to us. It is part of life. Twice in our life we have empty handed experiences. At the beginning of our life we enter into the world with empty hands and the very last moments of our life we depart the world also empty handed. The first empty handed period we survive well, because we receive unconditional love and unlimited support and utmost care from our loving parents. The second empty handed experience occurs when we depart from this world. We are alone because it is beyond the reach of human efforts. Some take a pessimistic view and believe that death is the end; there is nothing beyond life. Jesus came to this world to change just that. He offers hope and eternal life. For Jesus life is changing, not ended. Believing in Him there is everlasting life. He gave life back to Jairus' daughter (Mk 5,42); to his friend Lazarus ( Jn 11) and he himself rose from death to life. He offers eternal life for those who follow his way. The fishermen were eye witnesses and he made them to be fishers of men. We too are called to be active in that mission.
Stepping into deep water is a risky business because it is stepping into an unknown territory, but it is a step worth taking, because without taking risk there is no gain. Throwing nets into deep water the disciples were not alone but they did it with Jesus on their side. They listened to him and they were surprised to haul in many fish. They went ashore and left everything behind to follow Jesus. We need to trust our own wisdom and knowledge, but we need to trust God more, because God is our strength when we get tired; God is our Light when we grope in darkness; God is the source of joy when we are saddened. When we don't know where to cast our nets; consult Him! Those who have faith in Jesus when they finish their pilgrimage on earth; are not alone, but God is on their side and they will receive the unconditional love and bountiful mercy from the Lord, Jesus.