Luke 5:1-11 (5th Sunday)
Theme of our celebration today: Encounter with God; Isiah had an encounter that changed his life forever, Paul had encounter that changed his life forever; Pater, James and John had an encounter that changed their life forever. Asking for the same kind of encounter which will change our spiritual life, let’s celebrate this Eucharist!
Today’s gospel is not about fish. It is about people. Jesus starts with people, and ends with people. Peter, James, and John were expert and experienced fishermen. But they have been fishing on the wrong side of the boat. They must go out into deep water. And they have to change directions. It seems that experienced fishermen, need to be told by Jesus, a carpenter, how to fish! And when they listen to Jesus they fill their boat with abundance.
Sarah Mahoney had a wonderful story. She was born and raised Catholic. She had the opportunity to graduate from Catholic School. The thing about Sarah and her family, faith was never that important. They never had any family prayer and spiritual nourishment at the family. As a result, Sarah fell off from her Catholic faith after her confirmation. When she went to college she started leading a promiscuous and licentious life. As a result she did three different abortions. She was 100% convinced that abortion was alright for a lady. ‘I’m pro-abortion because, as independent human beings, women should have the ability to choose what happens to their body’. Sarah had three successful abortions and on the fourth time, as she was going to the abortion clinic, she saw this Catholic group standing in front of the Planned Parenthood praying. One Catholic lady tried to stop Sarah for a conversation. Sarah wouldn’t stop. Then Sarah saw that Catholic Women kneeling down, right there on the ground and raising her hands to heaven and begging God to intervene on behalf of Sarah. That was a turning point in Sarah’s life. The Holy Spirit touched Sarah and she talked to those ladies and opted for the baby and finally gave birth to beautiful little girl. Today she is going all over the world with her baby promoting life in a culture of death. Today Sarah says, ‘whatever we think and believe with conviction may not always be the truth’. We have to reshape, redefine our beliefs and actions to become a better person and a Christian.
Peter, James and John, they were experienced fishermen. But their beliefs and convictions were wrong. They had been working hard in vain but going home with an empty net- Symbol of our spiritual life. Many people’s spiritual life is just like an empty net. Many Catholics today have their own beliefs and understandings about faith and spiritual life. It is not necessary that all your beliefs and convictions are right. Many people are just lazy, and average and below average in their spiritual growth. Are you happy about your spiritual life? More than that is Jesus happy about your spiritual life? If not, that is when the Lord is calling you and asking you to change the direction. You have been fishing. You have been hard working. But it was in the wrong place and in the wrong direction. And it has been intimidating. Like the disciples, you have been fishing for a long time in shallow waters and your nets are empty. The story of Mother Teresa is a story of changing direction and going for deep sea fishing. Like her, we are also invited by the Lord to take our conversion to a deeper level.
This story is not about fish … it’s about people. Jesus said, “Do not be afraid, from now on you will be catching people.” They brought their boat to shore, left everything and followed Jesus. The fish is a symbol of one who follows Jesus. In the early church the fish was a sign of those who were faithful to Christ. During the great persecutions of the early church by the Roman Empire, it was a code symbol for those who wished to tell others that they were followers of Jesus. I wonder today how would we tell others that we are disciples of Jesus. Have you thought about that? It seems like a simple question! What distinguishes you as being disciple of Jesus? Well, coming to mass is a good start. But, of course, we know that discipleship much deeper than this. Real discipleship involves a way of life; a way of life with Jesus at the centre. This is one of the things we mean when we say Jesus is Lord. It means that we re-orient and re-pattern our lives around the person of Jesus. But the simple truth is that Jesus is not yet being the center and guide for most of the Christians. Jesus has become a buddy rather than our master; God has become a hobby rather than our passion. Church has become a club rather than a life defining mission. Today let’s allow Jesus to become that central and guiding power that is how we shape our lives.
We need to teach and practice expressions of reverence for the Lord. Today’s world desperately needs a “revival of reverence.” We need both to recognize God as God and to express that reverence for God through appropriate bodily gestures. For example, when we come into Church, we enter the presence of Jesus dwelling in the tabernacle. We need to remember that this is His house, a part of Heaven, and we need to express that remembrance by making a deep bow toward the tabernacle, or, if we are able to kneel, by genuflecting on the right knee before we enter the pew. We should offer him the same reverent recognition when we leave the Church and His Sacramental Presence. We might also remember to give a slight bow of the head whenever we hear, or say, the name of Jesus. The new regulation of bowing one’s head before receiving Communion is another beautiful act of reverence. This same sense of reverence can be expressed by keeping the Bible, God’s living word to us, in a prominent place in our homes and by kissing it each time we read from it. True reverence for God naturally leads us to the reverent, respectful love of neighbor. Blessed Mother Teresa loved people because she saw Jesus in them. That was the same Jesus Whom she reverenced and experienced in the Holy Eucharist. We, too, will have many opportunities for daily experiences of Christ. So the heart of our mission as Christians is really to find him hidden in our neighbors, and to accept his challenge to us – to love him, to have compassion on him, to practice justice toward him, to be kind to him there. Then it becomes easier for us to forgive injury as he did, and to be reconciled to those with whom we have difficulties. Thus, our mission as his disciples is to seek, to find, and to respond to Him in all people and events.
In other words, we have to Re-discover Catholicism and rediscover Jesus according to the real teachings of the church and in the light of the Bible.
Jesus called his first disciples and they followed him. How about you? Have you sensed Jesus calling you for a deeper relationship? What have you done about it? His call is for a deeper relationship than before. What will you do? Would Jesus take precedence over every other responsibility or vocation you have? He must become first — before father or mother, spouse or children. If, for whatever reason, you’ve sat down by the pathway alongside the road — from discouragement or tiredness or depression or disappointment — I want to invite you to get up again, and get back in step with the Master today on the Jesus Walk. They “left everything and followed him”. What about you?