Thursday, September 6, 2012

Choose Wisely

This morning I read one my favorite passages from the Sacred Scripture in today's Gospel:

While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God,
he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret.
He saw two boats there alongside the lake;
the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets.
Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon,
he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore.
Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.
After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon,
"Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch."
Simon said in reply,
"Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing,
but at your command I will lower the nets."
When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish
and their nets were tearing.
They signaled to their partners in the other boat
to come to help them.
They came and filled both boats
so that the boats were in danger of sinking.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said,
"Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man."
For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him
and all those with him,
and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee,
who were partners of Simon.
Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid;
from now on you will be catching men."
When they brought their boats to the shore,
they left everything and followed him. (Lk 5:1-11)

It never seizes to amaze me how the Lord gives us subtle messages in simple narration of the Gospel. He chose the boat of Peter. The same Peter whom He made the visible head of His Church, the first Pope, the Prince of Apostles. 

Jesus remained in the same boat of Peter till now. He remains in the Catholic Church. There is no Church of Christ without Peter. And we are in the same boat as long as we remain faithful to Jesus and His Church. I chose the same boat Jesus has chosen for Himself. Peter's boat. I thank my parents that they chose wisely for themselves and myself.

He ordered the boat to be put a short distance from the shore. Not too far so His voice could be heard and not too close so there is a distance, separation from the surrounding world. The voice of the Lord is heard in the world from the boat which is His Church, steered by Peter himself. Yet the boat is a bit off the land, so no one enters without invitation - you need to knock to be invited through the preparation, living faith and baptism.

Jesus in the boat is a guarantor that the catch is full and abundant. It is Him who gives meaning and success to the efforts of the fishermen of people. The secret of the success is obedience to Jesus' Will who wants his followers to be brave, to leave shallowness of empty lives and put out into deep water of spirituality and relationship with Him. 

'At your command I will lower the nets'. When Peter gets the amazing catch, his helplessness and sinfulness hit him hard. "Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man." It is Jesus for whom nothing is impossible. It is only with Him when we are able to achieve anything valuable in the grand scheme of salvation. It is so reassuring, especially when we do the examination of conscience and look in truth at ourselves. Psalm 37, verse 5 come to mind here: 'Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will act'.

There is still one thought remaining and provoking. What about the other boats which came to help the boat of Peter? Who are they in this picture of the Peter's boat being a Catholic Church? Ecumene comes to mind. From today's Gospel we get the message that it is Peter and the Catholic Church which invites to unity other ecclesial communities, to the same catch. To the task of fishing people for Jesus.

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