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

Homily for September 2, 2021 – Thursday of the 22nd Week in Ordinary Time

Fr. Justin Sheehan, OCSO

Thursday of the 22nd Week in Ordinary Time

In this morning’s Gospel, Our Lord says something to Simon which has more than a literal meaning. Put out into deep water, he says. For Simon, he meant to go deeper into the lake; but for us, he means to go deeper into life. In our increasingly secular culture, religion is considered as just another option in the main business of life, like an annex to a building; but if we think of it like that, we miss the whole meaning and adventure of life. Religion is not something added on to life, but an entirely new dimension into which life is plunged as you plunge into the sea.

The social media are always encouraging us to live on the surface of life: constantly checking our email and cellphone messages without wondering what lies beneath it all; but that means not living fully at all, because it means that there is a lack of depth in our lives.

The wisdom of this world foolishly claims that “Government’s the only thing we all belong to.” St Paul claims just the opposite: everything belongs to us, and we to Christ, and Christ to God. Belonging to Christ means, not just knowing more things than we otherwise would, but knowing something underneath all things, knowing the secret heart of things, because we know the Presence, the Love, that is in and around all things. It means plunging into the divine life as a diver plunges into the sea.

It is counter cultural to allow yourself to become a fool, so as to become wise, because the wisdom of this world, and especially the mainstream media, will be entirely against you. But the Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. He tells us in the Gospel, Do not be afraid; and his hand is always there to sustain us and encourage us as he sustained and gave courage to Peter when he was sinking. Our task is to take the plunge, to understand what love is and what life is, the kind of life that is really worth living because it is deep. We will have our victories and defeats, our successes and failures, but we must never give up: these are the times when the real work is done.

Simon himself said, Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing. That is what we may often feel in our efforts to build a culture of life and practice our religion in the public square when the government would confine us to our churches. But we should go on as Simon did: at your command I will lower the nets. When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish.

Sometimes we make strenuous efforts and see no results, but we can learn even from that to really love God, and not just the joy of finding God. Nobody expects an adventure to be smooth sailing all the way. Plunging into the depths to find true wisdom is the greatest adventure of all, since it is what, through God’s mercy, reveals to us life in its fullness. It is worth the effort.