When our children were growing up, our family would vacation for a week each summer at the ocean, somewhere along the coast in the New England states. And beginning at a very young age, the boys always had a fascination with sharks. We would scout the beaches early in the morning for shark teeth, purchase shark coloring books, stickers and plush toys, stop by the fish market to gape at the huge stuffed hammerhead hanging on the wall. And sometimes, if the timing was just right, our vacation would coincide with chilling and thrilling television episodes of “Shark Week.”

The boys are millennials now, and this year they decided they wanted to see the real deal: the great white shark in its natural habitat. So our whole family ventured out on a boat near the Massachusetts Cape, watching in awe as the pilot of a small plane overhead tracked down the sharks, radioed our captain, and led us right to them. And there they were: massive, mighty, still and stealth. Some 12 feet long, like colossal torpedoes, lurking just below the surface. It was exhilarating for the kids to see the real deal up close and personal.

As we headed back to shore, I was struck by the thought that the real deal had been there all along. During every vacation we ever took, the great whites were far out in the sea … prowling, waiting, preying … we just didn’t see them.

The adventure got me to thinking about Jesus, who is, of course, the Real Deal. How often do we fail to acknowledge that He is here with us, always and everywhere? Personally, I try hard to follow Him, to be more like Him in my thoughts, words and actions. But I fall short. I have moments of selfishness, greed and envy. I put myself in the driver’s seat instead of Him. I fail to show compassion at times when it is needed.

Other times, I simply take Him for granted. His handiwork surrounded us on our vacation: in the dazzle of the sunset, the power of the ocean, the stunning beauty of a butterfly, the refreshing breeze on a hot, humid day. Did I pause to praise Him and thank Him, or continue my preoccupation with the next item on my agenda?

And at other times, I’m ashamed to admit, I search for the real deal somewhere else, thinking that this purchase or this meal or this person or this award will completely satisfy me. It never does.

Only Jesus is authentic. Only He can fill us up and quench our thirst. In our darkest moments, He can walk us across the rough waters. We can count on Him always. He can bring blessings out of our sins, and focus our gaze on God instead of material things. We need to submit our judgments to His will, and trust that His path is the right path for us. We need only follow Him.

Jesus is the real Real Deal. And even if He is out of sight, He is always there, waiting, just beneath the surface.

Kathleen M. Gallagher is director of Pro-Life Activities for the New York State Catholic Conference.