Only in truth does charity shine forth, only in truth can charity be authentically lived. Truth is the light that gives meaning and value to charity...Without truth, charity degenerates into sentimentality. Love becomes an empty shell, to be filled in an arbitrary way. Pope Benedict XVI
was listening to a homily at my son's graduation mass. It frustrated
me because I saw the potential for such a good homily from this
gospel. We got a series of nice wishes that could have easily come
from a secular person. So I did something I probably should not do. I
started to compose a better homily in my head. Still, having lost
some of my blogging momentum, I thought I would try and share of
those thoughts here. The gospel was Luke 5:1-11:
day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were
crowding around him and listening to the word of God.He saw
at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who
were washing their nets.He got into one of the boats, the one
belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore.
Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep
water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t
caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their
nets began to break.So they signaled their partners in the
other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats
so full that they began to sink.When Simon Peter saw this, he
fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a
sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the
catch of fish they had taken,and so were James and John, the
sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.
Then Jesus said to
Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.”So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and
we see here is Peter having an encounter with Jesus. Peter is a
fisherman. He has fished all night. Yet he has not caught any fish.
This is a symbol of emptiness. Peter's is working hard and things are
not working out. He has done nothing wrong. Yet the blessings are not
happens to people. Sometimes they are even doing quite well
materially. Yet they feel they are empty. They work very hard and
feel like they are getting nowhere. Often it is because they have not
found their vocation. We need to know we are created by God with a
purpose in mind. If we are doing something other than what we were
created for it is never going to be quite satisfying.
what do we do? We go to Jesus. Peter does that. He calls Jesus
“Master.” He lets Jesus use his boat. He is comfortable with
Jesus to a point. We can be like that. We come to a graduation mass.
We are comfortable with Catholicism to a point.
Jesus tells Peter to “put out into the deep water.” St John Paul
reflected on this and saw Jesus inviting us to go deeper with Him. To
go beyond the shallow religious observance and let Jesus into the
deeper thinking of your life. When you ask: Who am I? What kind of
career should I pursue? What kind of marriage and family life do I
want? What kind of person do I want to be? When you go out into those
kind of deep waters then take Jesus with you. Let Him be your master
follows is a personal miracle. Something that amazed Peter but
someone who is not a fisherman would think, So what? This can happen
to you. When you let God into you personal place of failure and give
Him control He can work miracles that will amaze you and only you. He
shows not only His power but also a willingness to tailor that power
to precisely your frustrations.
touches Peter deeply. He knows that Jesus is much more that just his
master or rabbi. He is Lord. That is a word used in the Greek
scriptures to refer to God. He gets it. I am not dealing with someone
who has some interesting ideas about God and life and whatnot. I am
in the presence of the divine.
he reacts in a way we might find somewhat strange. He asks Jesus to
leave. Why? Because Peter has something darker than his failures. He
has his sin. Like the song says:
you feel my heat Look
into my eyes It’s
where my demons hide It’s
where my demons hide Don’t
get too close It’s
dark inside It’s
where my demons hide It’s
where my demons hide
would relate to a song like that. He has things about which he is
quite rightly ashamed. He was hiding them from Jesus. They were just
to embarrassing to face. Now he knows he cannot do that. You can't
come close to God and keep any secrets. So he tells Jesus to go.
comes next is a relief for Peter but also for every one of us. Jesus
tells him not to be afraid. That He has great plans for Peter. It is
a relief for all of us because we all have those demons hidden
somewhere. It means we can come to God as sinners and not be afraid.
It means we can still become what God intended us to become despite
having made some mistakes. Even if we have some things we do over and
over that are not very nice and perhaps downright despicable we don't
have to be afraid of God. We can be honest and we will be loved.
is more, that does not put us at the back of the line in terms of
God. You need to understand that we are all sinners. Jesus used Peter
powerfully despite the fact that he messed up quite a few more times.
The powerful thing is he knows he is a sinner. He knows he needs
forgiveness and Jesus is willing to give it. That is the first step
to being a great saint.