Saturday, February 6, 2010

Fifth Sunday, C: "Put out into the deep"

Isaiah 6. 1-2a,3-8; Psalm 138. 1-5, 7-8; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; St. Luke 5. 1-11

Our lives in Christ depend upon an unlimited trust in the Lord, following his words with energy and hope even when his will for us leads into uncharted waters, when he commands that we "put out into the deep", even those well-plumbed depths which have in the past yielded up for us only empty nets.

Simon Peter responded with weariness, "Master, we toiled all night and took nothing", when our Lord commanded him "Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch." (Lk 5, 4-5) He had good reason to believe that after all of his valiant efforts he would come up empty again.

You and I, too, have tried again and again to keep the Lord's commands, and sometimes have failed. We also respond sometimes with weariness when he reminds us to keep all the things that he has commanded. We too wish sometimes to persuade him to release us from the burdens of commitment, of thankless labor, of frightening and overwhelming situations. Peter, though wearied with trying, says a remarkable thing for, even after complaining hesitation, he responds with the divine power of faith: "But at your word I will let down the nets." (Lk 5, 5) He responds in obedience and trust, though he had no earthly reason to believe his efforts would be crowned with success.

Peter's faith and trust is rewarded with the miraculous draught of fishes. In awe at his encounter with the mysterious presence of the living God, he falls down in worship before Jesus, exclaiming, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord." (Lk 5, 8) He is unworthy before the thrice-holy God perfectly revealed in Jesus Christ.

Faced with God's fascinating and mysterious presence, man discovers his own insignificance. Before the burning bush, Moses takes off his sandals and veils his face in the presence of God's holiness. (Cf. Ex 3:5-6) Before the glory of the thrice-holy God, Isaiah cries out: "Woe is me! I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips." (Isa 6:5) Before the divine signs wrought by Jesus, Peter exclaims: "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord." (Lk 5:8) But because God is holy, he can forgive the man who realizes that he is a sinner before him: "I will not execute my fierce anger...for I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst." (Hos 11:9) The apostle John says likewise: "We shall reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything." (1 Jn 3: 19-20) (CCC 208)

Though we never refuse the grace of Confession and absolution when conscious of serious sin, we are yet aware that we must ever depend upon regular reception of the Lord's Body and Blood for the forgiveness of our venial sins.

Face to face with the glorious presence of our divine Lord in the Eucharist, we too are in awe before his majesty, and can approach him only with these words: "Domine, non sum dignus ut intres sub tectum meum. Sed tantum dic verbo, et sanabitur anima mea. O Lord, I am not worthy that Thou should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed." (Response to the "Ecce, Agnus Dei", Liturgy of the Mass of the Roman Rite.)

Let's pray for each other until, together next week, we "meet Christ in the liturgy", Father Cusick

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy (Publish with permission.)

Art: Rafael, Miraculous Draft of Fishes, tapestry.

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