A HOMILY FOR THE FIFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – CYCLE “C” FEB.10TH, 2019 – SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and goodness to you this day!
As we look back at our lives, each of us can see the specific people and extraordinary experiences that made major differences in our lives. Many times the changes are good ones, but sometimes those major influences and events, are not such good ones. Hopefully we remember the people and events of our lives that caused us to think bigger, or do better things, or use our talents in ways that we couldn’t possibly imagine on our own. It might have been our parents, or a teacher, or a coach, or a priest, or a youth minister. Or it might have been an educational or work opportunity, or maybe a certain class that you took, or a group or organization that you belonged to, or a retreat that you went on. God works differently in all of our lives!
This is what happens to Isaiah today in our first reading. God wants Isaiah to be His prophet. At first, Isaiah doesn’t feel worthy enough to be in God’s presence, saying, “I am doomed!” But then, gradually, with a little bit of time, by the end of the reading, Isaiah is ready, and he says “Here I am Lord, send me!”
It is much the same in our Gospel story today with Simon Peter. At the beginning of the story, Simon Peter and his companions are getting out of their boats and washing their nets. They are done for the night. And it hasn’t been a good night. They haven’t caught anything! But by the end of the Gospel reading, everything has changed. These same fishermen have abandoned their boats, left everything behind, and go to follow Jesus. What a remarkable turnaround!
And did you notice how this happened? It didn’t happen all at once. It didn’t start with Jesus asking Simon Peter to leave everything behind, and come and follow Him. Instead, Jesus does this very gradually. He begins with something very basic, something that Simon Peter can do with ease: Can I borrow your boat to teach out of, and would you put out a short distance from the shore? Now, this is a little inconvenient. After all, St. Peter has been fishing all night and must be tired. But it is doable. Simon Peter takes the first step. He gets back in the boat and pulls out a short distance from the shore. And then he has this up close and personal spot to hear Jesus’ words and teachings, right there in his own boat! He hears and experiences everything that Jesus is teaching and saying that day. And it makes a difference.
And so, what happens next? Jesus asks Simon Peter to take the boat out into deeper waters, and to lower his nets for a catch. Can’t you hear St. Peter saying to himself, “ I really didn’t want to get back in my boat in the first place, and I agreed to a short distance, but now you want me to go back out into deep water? Simon Peter pushes back. He says to Jesus, “Master, I have worked hard all night and have caught nothing.” And remember, this is the carpenter telling the fisherman how to do his job. Nevertheless Simon Peter agrees and they catch so many fish that the nets are tearing. Simon Peter is astonished. And by the time that
they reach the shore, he leaves everything and goes to follow Jesus. What a story, right? And yet, you see how the Lord worked? Jesus invites us to follow Him, and little by little, with His help and grace, we become faithful disciples!
How many times does God work this same way with all of us? God says, “Go a little bit further.” And we say, “I’m not so sure, Lord, I’ve tried that so many times. But at Your command I will.” And this next time things are different, because the work is not our own, but the Lord’s. We have worked. We have worked hard, and have caught nothing. Don’t we all know that feeling? Our efforts alone are insufficient. But at the command of the Lord, at the Lord’s initiative, with His help, His presence, His grace, our work is overflowing. It is blessed. It is beyond our wildest dreams!
The promise to us, today, my brothers and sisters, is that Jesus will meet us where we are. Little by little, He invites us even today in 2019 to take the next steps toward becoming His faithful disciples. There will be times that our efforts without Him will fail. We may work hard, but our “catch” will be minimal to nothing. However, with the Lord, and with us saying “yes” little by little, over and over, to God and to God’s will, our lives change and they change for the better. With God’s help, our efforts will bear fruit. And our “catch”, well, it will also be overflowing! And it will change our lives also.
+ May God bless us as we go to work for Him, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us!!!