gPut out into the Deeph

Duc in altum

New Year Pastoral Letter for 2002
Paul Otsuka Yoshinao, Bishop of Kyoto

1            A New Vitality  (Dynamism)

A Happy New Year to you all! 

@@We have now entered a second year since we left behind the Great Holy Year celebrating 2000 years since the birth of Christ and a third millennium began for the Church and for mankind. 2001 was the year in which all 57 parishes of the diocese were grouped into collaborative ministry teams and Kyoto diocese entered a new phase which we could rightly call the beginning of gthe age of Collaborative Ministry for Missionh. This year will be an important one for driving further forward with the development of Collaborative Ministry for Mission. 

@@In last yearfs New Year pastoral letter I explained the motivation behind Collaborative Ministry for Mission and its objectives, character and spirituality.  In response to that, whilst continuing with the struggle to put into effect Collaborative Ministry for Mission in various ways you have all been looking also at the questions, gWhat is the Gospel?h, gWhat is Evangelizationh and gWhat is the Church?h so as to understand and act upon the objective of gBecoming an Evangelizing Communityh.  In order to find common ground in your individual replies and insights it is necessary to share with one another, and talk to one another, about these matters and this work begun by the Diocesan Pastoral Council last year will be on-going.  

@@Last Year pope John-Paul II wrote an Apostolic Letter to mark the end of the Great Holy Year entitled Novo millennio ineunte (At the Beginning of the New Millennium) in which he calls upon us to embark upon this new age full of hope. (In what follows I shall quote from this document using paragraph numbers after an asterisk. (*n). He says, in particular, that the words of Jesus, gPut out into the deeph (Luke 5:4) (*1) should inspire us to new energies, or dynamism, in the Church and urges us to start on new pastoral plans for effective evangelization (*15). 

@@I would like, then, in response to this appeal from the pope, to look again at these same words of scripture, gPut out into the deeph, and find in them some encouragement for the people of Kyoto diocese who are now coming to grips with Collaborative Ministry for Mission. 

2.                      gcinto the Deep.h ? Challenge

@@gWhen he had finished speaking to the crowd Jesus got into Simon Peterfs boat and said to him, ePut out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.f When Simon and his friends had done so they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.h (Luke 5:4-6).  

@@Letfs pay careful attention to those words of instruction, gPut out into the deep waterh which Jesus addressed to Peter. This is an exact translation of the phrase in the gospel in Latin, gDuc in altumh. It refers to the open sea, well away from land. In the original Greek of the gospel it says, gEpanagage eis to bathosh. The Greek word gBathosh does not refer simply to the deep water of the open sea but also connotes the profound meaning of things, their edepthsf, the very core of their being. The phrase, gPut out into the deeph, is one of great richness which carries the nuance of going out into the unknown world where no one has yet set foot, or the world where mystery is realized. Whilst Jesus is certainly telling Peter, gTake the boat further away from the shore to where the water is deeperh that is not all he is saying. He is also telling him to move out beyond our present human experience and speculation; to move towards the world of mystery, or into the world of the events of salvation. 

@@I have felt in this command of Jesus Godfs invitation to us or, rather, his strongly presented challenge to be ever more ready to leap into the dark, the unknown world of mystery when we are sent out to spread the gospel. There is no model to imitate in Collaborative Ministry for Mission. It is something we must discover by trial and error.  It is certainly, however, something which God is asking us to face up to with the obedience of faith which rouses within us courage. 

3.                      gcinto the Deep.h ? Unconditional Trust

@@From amongst the fishermen who were washing their nets, having spent the night uselessly fishing for no catch, it was Simon who listened to Jesusf request. As a fisherman of many yearsf experience Peter had good reason to turn down Jesusf request. In accordance with his open and sincere manner, however, not being inclined to lay down conditions, he answered, gcbecause it is your word I will let down the net.h Not everyone in the crowd, or amongst the fishermen, listening to the words of Jesus became his disciple. How did it come about, then, that Peter was able wholeheartedly to follow Jesus? This is not a matter for reasoned explanation: Peter was gchosenh by Jesus. Peter, whose boat Jesus had deliberately chosen, opened his heart to Jesus and responded to his election with an unconditional trust which transcends human reason. 

@@Broadly, the new development in the Church world-wide that we call Collaborative Ministry for Mission is something which, in the whole long history of the Catholic Church, has been entrusted to the Church in this present age. For some reason our Japanese Church, which is few in numbers, has been chosen. This challenge to meet our responsibility to the Church of the future is providential, it is a grace and our participation to the salvific work of the Father.           

4.                       gcinto the Deep.h ? A Vision of the Future andLeap Forward

@@The Pope referred to the Great Holy year as, g a providential opportunity during which the Church, thirty-five years after the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, would examine how far she had renewed herself, in order to be able to take up her evangelizing mission with fresh enthusiasm.h (*2) It is, moreover, proper for the Christian to have an eye to the future and we could say that it is necessary for us to use the graces received during the Great Holy Year to, gput life into our new determination and practical plans for the future.h (*3)

@@There are those who ask about our efforts to put Collaborative Ministry for Mission into practice, gWhy do we have to do this?h and there are those who say, gIfm against it!h Certainly, for both priests and people, something very different from what we have been doing up to now has begun; a different sharing out of responsibilities is called for. If, however, to pacify these negative voices we were to let nothing new begin and leave the Church just as it is at the present then, sooner or later, possibly within our own lifetimes, that would be the end of it. The Pope says, though, that, gIn the cause of the Kingdom there is no time for looking back, even less for settling into laziness. Much awaits us.h (*15) I appeal to all of you, the people of this diocese, to look frankly at the actual situation of our church. The stagnation and impasse in missionary activity we see there are surely gsigns of the timesh, signs that it is now necessary to commit ourselves positively to new ways of evangelization and sail out into the deep open sea of Collaborative Ministry for Mission.

5.                      gcinto the Deep.h ? The New Needs of Evangelization at the Present Time.

@@Christ is moving us, we who believe in the one true God, to set out into the gDeeph represented by our actual situation: the modern world in need of the gospel of hope. At the close of the 20th century, which achieved such remarkable progress in science, technology and economic development, mankind has entered the third millennium with the huge discrepancies between those who benefited from this progress and those who have been sacrificed to it unchanged. If we ask whether the process globalization has made the earth an ever-happier place we must, regretfully, conclude that there is no cause for such an optimistic view.

@@In the stagnant economic conditions which have prevailed since the collapse of the bubble economy in Japan many people feeling their livelihood under threat and, in the midst of all their efforts, tiredness and anxieties, are losing sight of themselves and their humanity. Young people, having no pride in themselves and seeing no purpose in life, are in a state of unrest. When we look around at all the problems of present day society by which we are surrounded, it seems there is no age as much as this one in which all the people of the world are so desperately seeking to be able, gto live peacefully in a human wayh. We can, however, through discernment enlightened by whole-hearted acceptance of the Holy Spirit, discover in our midst small seedlings of the Gospel way.  

@@In all this the Catholic Church is being called by God the Father, through Christ, to gBring the good news to the poorh. (Luke 4:18) The Diocesan Vision Statement (1981) says, gseeking faith in the midst of life, and out of our special concern for people ein a position of weaknessf, let us look for Christ at work in every situation.h As we forge ahead with Collaborative Ministry for Mission we must do so in such a way that our sense of being Church and organizational reforms are in accordance with the Vision Statement. It says there that, more and more, we must move out from the Church into society so as to become, ga Church walking together with society.h

6.           gcinto the Deep.h ? Towards Meditation and Prayer

@@Collaborative Ministry for Mission is an experiment moving forward with the help of God. It is most important, therefore, that it be deeply rooted in prayer and reflection. Nowadays we live in an age of dizzyingly rapid, anxiety provoking change and there is always the danger that we might run around taking gaction for the sake of actionh. We must resist that temptation. Before gDoingh there is gBeingh; before we act we must seek the raison dfetre. (*15) 

@@The movement towards Collaborative Ministry for Mission is not about superficial change; it is not simply a matter of stopping old practices and initiating new ones. It is a process of profound change which is founded on humble repentance so that the faith of the whole community, and every individual member, can be firmly united with Christ. Before we set out into the deep, therefore, we must, like those who listened to Jesus speaking those words, meditate on the person of Jesus constantly revealed to us in the words of the scriptures. (*16-28)  gOnly the experience of silence and prayer offers the proper setting for the growth and development of a true, faithful and consistent knowledge of the mystery of Jesus Christ.h (*20) 

7.           Conclusion           gLet down the nets together, and fish.h 

@@Jesus said to Peter, gLet down your nets for a catch.h(Luke 5:4) It was not Peter alone, however, who was told to let down the nets; the verb is in the plural. And after they had let down the nets and they were so filled with fish it seemed the nets would tear, Peter signaled to his gfriendsh in the other boat to come to their assistance. The word gfriendsh is extremely important. Although meeting Christ has an individual aspect it is, at the same time, always a communal experience.

@@The essential spirit of Collaborative Ministry for Mission is gfellowshiph. Whilst God calls every single member of the Church to spread the gospel, he always sends us to do so in groups, no matter how small. The word gcollaborationh, or working together, in the term Collaborative Ministry for Mission is an essential and distinctive characteristic of evangelization.

@@Putting evangelization into practice in Kyoto diocese is not something which can be done adequately unless every single member the people of the diocese takes part and cooperates in the work. The promotion of dialogue at every level within the Church, the effort to create an open community, the resource of the liturgy, the life of faith through prayer and the sacraments, all these are carried out on the foundation of fellowship between all the Christians.@

@@In March of this year I am going to form a gPromotion Team for Collaborative Ministry for Missionh. I ask all the people of the diocese, please, to open your hearts to this course the Church is taking and to pray together about it. Let us offer to God, through Mary the mother of God, the efforts we will be making in the diocese throughout this year.

@@So, then, let us take courage, not be afraid and whilst sharing our failures and pains let us also, in obedience to our faith in following Christ, rejoice as we gput out into the deeph together in our boat, the Church. @

That they may all be one! 

New Yearfs Day, 2002