Homily – 5th Sunday Ordinary Time C

Homily — 5th Sunday Ordinary Time C      February 4, 2007

The Miraculous Draught of Fishes by Raphael
It had been a long, hard night of work.  And at the end of it all, the four fishermen had nothing whatsoever to show for it except their aching bodies and discouraged spirits.

Simon Peter, and Andrew, John, and James tie up their boats to the shore, and begin the lengthy ritual of washing out and folding up the heavy, four to five hundred-yard-long nets they used to fish with, nets which needed at least four strong men to handle.

They had just finished cleaning the nets, when along comes Jesus with a crowd of people.  Jesus hops in Peter’s boat and asks Peter if he could pull out a few yards from shore for 20 minutes or so while Jesus talked to the crowds.

We don’t know how willing Peter was to do so, he probably wanted to get as far from the boat and the sea as possible that day.  In any event, he does take Jesus out a few yards, and then for the next 10-20 minutes He listens to Jesus speak to the crowds.

Only, Jesus isn’t just speaking to the crowds on the shore, He’s also speaking to Peter.  Speaking words of inspiration, of consolation, of faith.  Speaking words which resonate in Simon Peter’s heart, filling it with grace and love and strength like it has never been filled before.

Peter is deeply affected by Christ’s words, as is Andrew his brother and James and John in the boat still on the shore.  So deeply affected, that despite the miserable long night of work, they now feel more alive than ever.

And then after He had finished speaking, Jesus turned to Simon Peter and said to him “Put out into the deep and lower your nets for a catch.”

Peter thought a moment about this.  We’ve been at it all night and have caught nothing.  We’ve clean and folded up all the nets.  The sun’s up and the fish will see the shadow of the boat coming.

But even though what He’s asking me to do seems futile, It is surely the voice of Almighty God asking me to do it, said Simon Peter to himself.

So Simon Peter chooses to follow that voice of Christ.  He puts out into the deep and ends up catching so many fish his and his partners boat almost sink from the weight of them.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, this story should teach us a valuable lesson.

Notice the progression of events:

  • Peter’s tired from a hard and unfruitful day of work;
  • He makes a small little sacrifice of his time to listen to Jesus teach;
  • After a few minutes listening to Jesus, Peter starts being inspired by what he’s hearing;
  • After Jesus is finished with his general teaching, Peter then hears Jesus speak directly to him, telling him what he should do;
  • Peter resolves to carry out the will of Jesus, even though it’s not what he himself would have thought successful;
  • Peter catches an unbelievable amount of fish.

That is how Jesus works with every disciple, not just Simon Peter.   If we want the blessings of God in our lives, we first must take the time to listen to Jesus.  We need to take time each week for extended prayer or good spiritual reading.  In addition to 5-10 minutes of minimum daily prayer, an extended period of at least 20 minutes once a week of personal prayer and spiritual reading should be a part of every serious Christians life.

Secondly, after spending time with Jesus, we need to then ask “what are you saying to me Jesus?  What are you calling me to do?”   Jesus will speak directly to us and give us direction, if we first take the time to prayerfully listen.

He might be calling us to let go of a certain grudge we’ve been holding on to.  He might call us to spend more time with family or a certain friend.  He might be calling us to get to confession.  Or, he might be calling us to invite a friend to confession and/or to Sunday Mass with us.

And lastly, once we hear what He’s calling us to do, we must then take that step of faith and put out into the deep.

And you know, obeying the voice of Jesus has never been known to fail.

Our late Holy Father Pope John Paul II a few years before he died said that the motto for the whole Church in this Third Millenium is Duc in Altum:  Put out into the Deep.  Knowing the last Pope, I’m sure Jesus told him to tell us that.

May we not be afraid to put out into the deep of our lives and bring Christ to those around us.   In the first Reading, Isaiah was initially afraid to follow God.  But then an angel took a  hot coal from the altar and put it on Isaiah’s tongue (the stone altar was carved out in the middle and hot coals were put in it in order to cook the animal sacrifices).  When Isaiah receives the hot burning coal, he is given the strength to do God’s will and says “Here I am, send me Lord”.

The Church Father’s tell us that the Hot Coal on Isaiah’s tongue is a foreshadowing of Holy Communion.   May this Holy Eucharist we will now receive set out hearts on fire with the love of God.  May it inflame us to put out into the deep and lower our nets for a catch at the command of Christ.

3 Responses to “Homily – 5th Sunday Ordinary Time C”

  1. Father Woolley says:

    Hello Bob,

    I got that info on the 400-500 yard net from a well known series of meditations on the Mass Readings called “In Conversation with God.” The priest who wrote it usually does his homework and checks what the experts say life was like in Jesus’ day. It seemed like a big net to me also, but that was the number he gave.

    Fr. Woolley

  2. bob says:

    Hi Father;
    You had my attention Father on your homily,it was interesting even though at seventy years old I have heard it a few times,so to speak.but I found your descripton of a four to five hundred yard net(five football fields)somewhat of a stretch .no pun intended.
    See you on Sunday,

    bob

  3. Jeanne Monahan says:

    Hi Father Woolley,

    What a beautiful homily on forgiveness. I just read “Left to Tell” about a woman who forgave the people who literally hacked to death her family in Africa. The only way she had peace during this horrific experience was to forgive those who robbed her of everything. It certainly makes my grudges seem so petty.

    My favorite scene of forgiveness is watching the footage of John Paul II forgive the man who shot him.

    Thanks again for a beautiful homily. If you have to be “stuck” somewhere, Ireland is the place to be.
    Peace,

    Jeanne