28 June 2009

4th Sunday of Pentecost

Epistle: Romans 8:18-23
Gospel: Luke 5:1-11

"And having brought their ships to land, leaving all things, they followed him."

Last week, the message of the Epistle and Gospel focused on judging actions, but not people, rather being humble minded and reminded of the value of penance.

This Sunday, the message is about hope.

In the Epistle, St. Paul empathizes with the sufferings of his brethren, and to see their sufferings as a share in the punishment for sin. We don't know if our sufferings are for our own sins, or the sins of others, we only know for certain that God is fully loving and fully just.

"For the creature was made subject to vanity, nor willingly, but by reason of him that made it subject in hope; because the creature also itself shall be delivered from the servitude of corruption."

St. Paul refers to the concerns of this life as vanity because of the evil brought into the world due to original sin. Our suffering in this life, therefore, is due to having to serve in the context of things that are vain, meaning, that they do not fulfil the ultimate desire of one in who is in the Spirit of Christ, and because of the disorder of this life in which we must serve, suffering is inevitable.

"For we know that every creature groaneth, and travaileth in pain, even until now; and not only it, but ourselves also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves grown within ourselves, waiting for the adoption of the sons of God, the redemption of our body, in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Here St. Paul referes to the mystical "adoption" not as coming first into the Church, but the union of the created soul with God.

We then see in today's Gospel reading, Jesus suprising the apostles and other fishermen by giving them very unlikely fishing advice, which due to the miracle, turns out to be a success.

Our Lord commands Simon, "Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon, answering, said to Him: Master, we have labored all the night, and have taken nothing..." How often it is, in the midst of our sufferings, that we turn to Jesus and find that nothing seems to be working out? What then? Do we lose hope and trust during the night of our souls? Do we then say, "Master, we have labored all the night, and have taken nothing"?

This was a serious concern for them. Back then, it wasn't like fishing was a sport, but it was the means by which to feed their people. "All night" was no exaggeration, but a real description of their plight. These were expert fisherman who did this for a living, and worked all through the dark hours, with still nothing to show. It was a bit of a desperate situation. They'd not seen themselves as having given up, but that the situation itself was a lost cause. After the long night, they had brought in the boats and equipment and were washing their nets when our Lord called out to them.

Simon, in obedience to Jesus, followed his order to let down the net. When Simon saw the miraculous result of the multitude of fishes, he repented of his sin. What was the sin? The sin was that Simon did not ask Jesus for his assistance, and trust that he would, in some way, help him.

"And having brought their ships to land, leaving all things, they followed him."

Why is that we get ourselves often so bogged down in inward or outward complaints, even to the point of thinking too much of something as if it were such a cause to be it's own end (rather than a means to union with the Almighty) or even lose our peace all together? How do we, once and for all, bring our own ships to land and leave all things, in order to trust in Jesus above all else (even in the long, dark night)? Do we always need a miracle to grow in supernaturalized hope?

We grow in hope when we grow in love of Christ. We grow in love of Christ when we seek to know him in his actions revealed to us in the Gospels, and in faithful adherence to his Sacraments. And, we grow by the other essential requirement: by daily meditation on his life.
We must have a conversation with him, even outside of our daily prayer time, where we endeavor to share every moment with the aim to maintain his True Presence within bodies. The holiest place on the planet to each faithful Catholic should be his own heart --- not for its corruption, having been born of original sin, having suffered its effects, and itself having commited sin, but because it is the place where Jesus seeks to dwell. We don't need to "feel" that it is the holiest place, but rather, we must recognize this vocation of every faithful Catholic, to be the living tabernacle of the Lord. However, when we sin against hope, when we lose our peace over life's trials, we dissipate Christ within us.

The more we make a habit of regarding our Lord in our hearts more frequently after Holy Communion we can grow in the supernatural gifts.

If there were a burglar to come to your home tonight, and he knocked on the door, then said, "Hello, it's a strange man come to burgal your home!" would you open the door and let him in?
The answer is: No. Of course not. However, when we chose to let our peace be disturbed we do worse than opening the door to have our homes burgled, as we are talking about the home Christ looks to make in our hearts, at a very high price he paid for you.

We are creatures with emotions, and this makes it more challenging to grow impatient or fall into poor judgment. This is why the more we regard the Lord's Presence within us (after receiving Holy Communion), the more we will be readily apt to do whatever it takes to maintain that sanctuary within ourselves, where God can dwell more fully and peacefully. Also, we must chose to leave all things, in order to follow Him. When we see that even the necessities in life are only for the purpose of getting us by in this life in order that we may serve Him, we must use them as if they are just that: a means to a glorified end. We must have holy impatience only withourselves to endeavor to be always recollected, and always keep our hearts at peace to maintain Christ within us.