The warm rose-colored sunrise over the silent Sea of Galilee captivates anyone spirited enough to venture out over the waters before dawn. Last week just before sunrise, I paddled toward the center of the lake from the Duc In Altum shoreline. At this distance, the only sound was water lightly lapping the edge of my SUP, while the breeze gently brushed the hair from my face, inviting me to fully turn my attention toward the dawn. It was impossible for me to take my eyes from the display of everchanging colors as the sun reddened the clouds and grew tall over the Golan Heights. It slowly created a luminous path over the water’s surface that seemed to invite me even further out with the words of Jesus himself, “go into the deep.” (Luke 5:4)
The Sea of Galilee gets deep very quickly. The water is shallow close to the shore, but about 10 yards out, a sharp falloff quickly reaches depths anywhere from 84 to 114 feet. Going out into deep waters can be frightening.
Save me, God,
for the waters have reached my neck.
I have sunk into the mire of the deep,
where there is no foothold.
I have gone down to the watery depths,
the flood overwhelms me. (Psalm 69: 2, 3)
“Go out into the deep,” Jesus said to Peter long ago from his own boat, close to this very shore. He accepted the Lord’s challenge to trust beyond his own experience, fear, and expectations. The catch of fish at the Lord’s word was overwhelmingly abundant. Perhaps Mary Magdalene heard Peter recount this life-changing experience in the port of her own hometown in Magdala, on the very spot where Duc In Altum now stands.
Mary Magdalene probably never expected to hear this same invitation a few years later. “Go,” the risen Jesus told her. “Go to my brothers and tell them ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” (John 20:17) The Lord was inviting her beyond her experience of his terrible death, the fear of losing him, or the expectations of tangibly ‘hanging on’ to his physical body. Jesus demonstrated that love is stronger than death. Calling her by name, he confirmed that his is a personal love.
Mary Magdalene put out into the profound waters of apostleship with the secure conviction of the power of love, conceivably praying with the words of the Song,
Love no flood can quench,
No torrents drown. (Song of Songs, 8:7)
Celebrated as the first evangelist – the apostolorum apostola according to the 9th century Abbot and Archbishop Rabanus Maurus – Mary Magdalene announced to the apostles what they in turn would proclaim to the whole world!
We are all called to be apostles. As we commemorate the feast of Mary Magdalen from the shores of Duc In Altum, let us remember that, “nothing can come between us and the Love of Christ…no power or height or depth.” (Romans 8:38, 39) Let us all confidently go out into the deep!