One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

February 04, 2007

For the Fifth Ordinary Sunday of the Church Year

Luke 5:1-11

The miracles of Christ usually meet some pressing need.
The miracle in today’s Gospel is different, because there is no pressing need.
Simon Peter and his coworkers have fished all night and caught nothing.
They aren’t starving, though they must be worn out after a full night of fruitless work.
I think they must have been torch fishing.
That is, when you fish at night, if you shine a torch over the water the light attracts the fish.
That night, the men caught nothing at all.
Now the sun is out.
Nonetheless, against their own common sense and professional experience they obey the command of Christ.
Put out into deep water
and lower your nets for a catch.

The men obey Christ, and their obedience to Christ is like a shining light that draws in the fish.
The sun is now shining, so a physical torch would be useless for attracting fish; but now the men have Christ with them on the water— Christ “Light from Light, True God from True God.”
Christ draws the fish, but so does obedience to Christ.
The men now pull in not just enough fish to satisfy a day’s earnings.
They now have so many fish that the nets are breaking and the boats are in danger of sinking because of the weight.
Christ is not just a torch held over the dark depths.
In the full light of day, Christ is brighter than the sun.
Christ and our obedience to Christ bring a benefit that goes far beyond what we can even begin to enjoy— perhaps more than we can stand.
Simon Peter realizes at least a bit of that.
When Simon sees what the Lord has done, it is more than Simon can bear, and he is afraid.
He throws himself down in front of Christ and says, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”
Christ answers.
Do not be afraid;
from now on you will be catching men.

Catching fish kills the fish.
In the original language of the Gospel, the word Christ uses for “catching men” means “catching them into LIFE”— eternal life.
When the overflowing boats finally reach the shore with the miraculous, giant catch of fish, Simon and his partners James and John simply leave all the fish, the nets and the boats— everything— and go off to follow Christ.
They themselves are now like fish drawn to the light.
Today, Simon and his partners are face to face with the great mystery of Christ.
Being God, Christ is always more than we can enjoy and always more than we can take.
Simon would have to face that fact repeatedly, especially when he ran away when Christ allowed himself to be arrested.
Christ is always more than we can enjoy and always more than we can take.
So he himself has to tell Simon and us the good news.
Do not be afraid!

At the same time that Christ drives away our fears he also calls us.
From now on
you will be catching others for the kingdom of life in God.

Once we hear and know that Christ wants us, there is only one thing to do.
Simon, James and John, without further explanation from this mysterious man of power and wisdom— Simon, James and John simply left everything and followed Christ.
What took place on the lake in today’s Gospel also takes place each time we set out into the deep waters of the Lord’s Work in the Eucharist.
We find ourselves face to face with God, the Lord, the Almighty Holy One, who in this Blessed Sacrament works the exceeding wonder of his love and mercy for our salvation.
To be honest about who Christ is, and to receive him with sincerity and truth, we must recognize that he is God and we are sinners.
That is a gap between God and us that God alone can cross, and that he has chosen to cross through the Cross of Christ.
So it is most fitting for us to cry out, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word, and I shall be healed.”
Then he who is Love himself, he who is himself the casting out of all fear, comes to us in the Eucharist, his body and blood that he surrenders to be our healing from fear and sin.
In receiving the Sacred Body and the Precious Blood of Christ, we also receive the command, the mission to be his flesh and blood, his Church for the life of the world.
We are sent in the boat of the Church to carry the Light of Christ and our obedience to Christ out over the world’s deep waters of sin and death to draw people to the shores of God’s kingdom, a kingdom of holiness and life.
We need to pray always to be faithful and obedient in following Christ.
May Christ himself be our success and our everlasting joy!

That God Be Glorified in All