Homily for the fifth Sunday of the year - Year C - Lk. 5:1-11


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"While the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret. And he saw two boats by the lake; but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat.


"And when he had ceased speaking, he said to Simon, « Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch. » And Simon answered, « Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets. » And when they had done this, they enclosed a great shoal of fish; and as their nets were breaking, they beckoned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, « Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord. » For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, « Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men. » And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him."




Homily:


"While the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret. And he saw two boats by the lake; but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat."


Today, we are going to witness the vocation, that is to say the call, of the very first apostles: Jesus calls to his service those whom he had chosen himself from the beginning of time according to the will of his Father. Always and forever, God, by the superabundance of his love, by the fact that his life is without limit and wants, so to speak, to spread ever further - God, we said, casts his eyes and his kindliness upon his elect, those whom he chose to eternally participate in his own life. Today, Jesus sees Simon on the side of the lake; he sees him in the love of his Father who is in Heaven, he wants to give perfection to the first meeting with the fisher of Galilee, the meeting at which Jesus "looked at him, and said, « So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas (which means Peter). »" (Jn. 1:42) Yesterday, Simon received his name: Cephas; today, he receives his mission: fisher of men! "Henceforth you will be catching men."


"He sat down and taught the people from the boat." Jesus sets the example: he teaches the crowd. Jesus sits down in Simon's boat, and it is from this precise place that he gives the crowd his teaching. He accomplishes his mission, the one which the Father had entrusted to him: to announce the Good News of Salvation! Jesus came down to the earth to open to us the way of Heaven: the only Son of God became flesh within the Virgin Mary in order to give the whole world the Spirit of Truth sent to men and spread upon earth at the cost of his death on the Cross of Calvary! But Jesus could not send the Spirit without having returned to his Father. He went up therefore into Heaven, and, in order to continue his Work of Salvation, he chose the apostles, and first among them Simon, called Peter.


"He sat down and taught the people from the boat." This boat is the symbol of the Church. Jesus therefore teaches the crowd in the Church! But Jesus being no longer here, it is the apostles and their successors, the pope and the bishops, who teach the crowd today. As this concerns the boat of Simon Peter, it is the Pope, as Successor of Peter, and the bishops united to the Pope who teach the crowd today! They are the fishers of men of today! Listen to them, follow them!


"And when he had ceased speaking, he said to Simon, « Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch. » And Simon answered, « Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets. » And when they had done this, they enclosed a great shoal of fish; and as their nets were breaking, they beckoned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink."


What a union! What a communion! Simon does all that Jesus asked of him, and the partners of Simon hasten to come to help the one who will become their chief! The faith of Simon Peter is immensely recompensed! Not only does Peter catch an enormous quantity of fish, but he also receives help, very freely offered, from his partners! The confidence and faith of Peter must be for us a model to follow in all circumstances. Every man, every woman in the Church is called to the service of God: it is the Pope who calls them to this! "They beckoned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them."


If there is a service which the Church asks in the name of the Lord, it is first of all participation in the Sunday Mass. We are all invited, convened, called to unite ourselves in order to celebrate the Eucharist every Sunday: it is a commandment of the Church! If we accomplish our duty, there is no doubt that we also will become fishers of men! May the Most Holy Virgin Mary, who always answered the call of the Lord, help us in our mission as Christians! May She help us to receive Jesus within ourselves today, as if he had come into our boat in order to teach the crowd!



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