- The Abbey of the Genesee - https://www.geneseeabbey.org -

February 10, 2019

Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO [1]

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 6:1-2A, 3-8; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Luke 5:1-11

“O my God, fill my soul with holy joy, courage and strength to serve you. Kindle your love in me and then walk with me along the next stretch of road before me. I do not see very far ahead, but when I have arrived where the horizon now closes down, a new prospect will open before me, and I shall meet it with peace” (Edith Stein).

The prophet Isaiah recounts how a new prospect opened before him after he had a life-changing encounter with the Holy One of Israel. The glory of the Lord that filled the temple is the same glory we see shining on the face of Christ. In Christ, God is seated on a throne of grace; and through Christ God is showing us the path to His dwelling place. Imagine, God, for whom the heavens are too small to contain chooses to dwell in each human heart. The soul is overwhelmed because when in the presence of the Holy One, the individual finds himself face-to-face with his own unworthiness and sin. Thanks to God’s loving kindness, like Jacob of old, we have seen the Living God and lived to recount our experience.

Through the Incarnation of His Son, God has filled our souls with joy, courage and strength to serve Him. Because of His great love for us, the Beloved Son took our sin to himself so that we might be clothed in righteousness. The Holy One of Israel became a man in order to seek out sinful humanity and make the children of Adam and Eve holy again. The fire of divine love, which is symbolized by the burning coal taken from the altar, cleanses our lips of all sin and inflames our hearts to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom. The implanted Word takes root in us and becomes our food for the journey home. It is great comfort to those whom God sends, that they speak his word in his name, and their efforts are made fruitful because he is faithful to his promises.

Obediently and intentionally moving ahead, one step at a time, those who rely on his loving-kindness, will find him faithful to his word. If God gives us strength in our souls, to bear the burdens, resist the temptations, and to do the duties of an afflicted state, if he strengthens us to cling to Him by faith, and to wait with patience for the new horizon to open, we will progress in peace. When sinners are, by Divine grace, turned into saints, God causes the remembrance of former sins to keep them humble, earnest, and faithful. It is by Christ, crucified and risen from the dead, that we have been brought to newness of life.  It is in Christ that we live and move and have our being. By means of this faith God fills our souls with joy, courage and strength to surrender to His love and care for us.

What stands out in today’s gospel reading is that Jesus needs and makes use of what the fishermen have to offer, their boat. Having met the disciples in the shallows, Jesus invites them to take the next step, set out into the deep. Having been captured by the Word, they needed to stop living at the surface and plumb the depths where they will find an unimaginable catch. When Jesus tells the disciples to set out into the deep, he is not just referring to the waters of the Lake.  For the disciples, and us the “deep” is a metaphor for things greater than the depth of the sea; it’s an invitation to plunge into the call Jesus offers us.

When Jesus had finished preaching to the crowd, he looked at his disciples and told them to set out into the deep water. Those who hear the word must be willing to leave our comfort zone and pursue the depths of the message. Our own efforts may net nothing. However, when we obey the Word of God, the catch is beyond our expectations. Like Peter, we will find that we are in over our heads. Like the Big Fisherman, we fear that our sinfulness will hinder God’s gracious actions.  Simon falls to his knees before Jesus and announces, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”  To this proclamation Jesus reply promises, “do not be afraid from now on you will be catching people.” Allow me to rewrite the dialogue. “Lord, I am just a stupid man! If you had any sense, you would drop me and find someone else. But I hope you don’t because when I hear you talk, I feel alive.” All the while Peter was setting out for the deep water, Jesus was looking into the depths of his heart.

My brothers and sisters, as we gather around the altar of the Lord, it is not our little affairs that matter here, but rather the one thing that matters is the great sacrifice of atonement that has been handed down to us. As we cast our nets into the depths of the gospel message, we grow in the knowledge of being the Father’s beloved children in Christ. We empty ourselves of all that is ours to be filled by Him who is all-in-all. We freely surrender to God’s will for us so that His word may take root deep within us. As the heavenly harvest grows and develops in us we will find courage to scatter the seed of the Word of Life to others.

One step at a time, we are called to follow the Voice of the one who decided to become one of us. As we journey with him, he will guide and direct what we say and what we do. By our words and deeds, we share with others the gift of faith we have received. Thank you, Lord kindling in us the fire of your love. We are humbled and blessed by your call to set out into the depths. Continue to walk with us as we journey towards our heavenly homeland. Grant that as new challenges open before us. We count on your promise and our desire to receive your call. That promise is your way of loving and serving us, be with us as we serve others in imitating you.