Homily — 5th Sunday OT C 2/10/13

Homily — 5th Sunday OT C 2/10/13

 Its a blizzard outside, but the Gospel invites us to imagine we are out on the water on a hot summer day!

 Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.

 After the miraculous catch of fish, Simon Peter for some reason suddenly becomes acutely aware of his weaknesses and limitations, to the point where he can’t bear to be in Christ’s presence.

 What made Peter react that way? When Jesus turned 180 gallons of water into wine, or when Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes, we don’t see anyone at the wedding party or in the crowd start reflecting on their sinfulness. What was it about this miracle that struck such a chord in Peter’s heart?

  A closer reflection on the miracle itself can supply us the answer. How exactly did Jesus work the miracle? As one biblical commentator points out, Jesus did one of three things.

 He either one, suddenly created all those fish to be caught, or two, he miraculously knew that all those fish would be naturally there at that time, or three, Jesus miraculously summoned all the fish from around the area to come and congregate in that spot.

Of those three alternatives, the last one is the most likely way the miracle happened: Jesus gathered the fish at that spot. They were all swimming about the sea aimlessly at various depths and locations, when suddenly, drawn by a supernatural force, they were all led like the Magi were to that one location.

 And there, all those various types of fish (supposedly there are about 24 different species in the Sea of Galilee), who normally would be repelled by each other, or be afraid of each other, or would kill and eat each other, all those different types of fish are by God’s grace gathered peacefully together, swimming around as one body.

Simon Peter is the leader of the fleet of ships that catches all these fish. And as one by one, the fish are taken out of the net and land on the deck, Peter realizes that Jesus has drawn all these various types of fish together, and he realizes that he like those fish has been drawn to Jesus by some supernatural grace.

 And then, even before Jesus speaks those famous words to him, Peter understands what this miracle means: the catch is symbolic of the future catches of men Jesus will have Peter make. Men and women of different races, rich and poor, educated and unlearned, some who naturally hate each other, will all be drawn to Christ, and Peter will bring them all together into the Church.

 Peter sees the vision, and says depart from me Lord, I am a sinful man. No, not me Jesus, I will screw things up. I’m impulsive, I’m not that smart, I’m a coward deep down, quick tempered, over confident and proud, I get overly emotional, and I worry too much about what others might think; I crack under pressure. Even now, I barely obeyed you, and totally doubted your command would work.

 Pick me Jesus as an apostle, and I will just fail miserably and most probably end up abandoning you in time of need, and denying that I ever knew you afterwards.

But after that heart felt confession, after asking Jesus to leave him, Simon Peter didn’t leave; he still lay there clinging to the feet of Jesus, immovable as a Rock.

 Jesus said to him “Yes Simon, I know you are a sinful man, and I’m glad you know it also. But come follow me and I will make you a fisher of men. Not always a catcher of men, for some will get away, some will refuse to be caught, and some will be for other fishermen to reel in at a later time. Some days you will be at it all night and catch nothing. But be not afraid, you will be many days catching a miraculous amount of men who will be drawn to me through you, despite your sinfulness. For my grace will be working through you.”

My brothers and sisters, may we know that like Simon, like Isaiah, like St. Paul, Jesus calls us, despite our weaknesses, to follow him and do great things for him.

May we like them have a healthy and humble awareness of our faults, but still cling to Jesus and follow him as best we can, knowing that by His grace, all things are possible.

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