Don't Take the Easy Way Out - Reflection

Homily of Fr. Herbert Nicholls, Diocese of Fall River, bi-ritual faculties in the Maronite Church, chaplain at Mother of the Light Convent.

Luke 5:1-11
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 they 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.
As we look at today’s Gospel we find in Simon Peter’s personality this reticence, caution, even resistance. St. Ambrose tells us that it reflects both the difficulties of the early Church and her later fruitfulness.
Each one of us should see ourselves as this boat which Christ enters. Externally no change is evident; but there is an interior change in our soul. Now that Christ has come aboard, just as He came aboard Peter’s boat, we feel a greater ambition to serve and an irrepressible desire to announce the marvelous works of the Lord.
In St. Paul’s letter to the Church at Thessalonica, which derives from the ancient Greek word, ekklesia, meaning assembly or gathering of people. From apostolic times it was used to describe the new people of God or the developing Church.
In Vatican II’s “Constitution on the Church”, Lumen Gentium, we read: All those who in faith look towards Jesus , the author of salvation and the principle of unity and peace, God has gathered together and established as His Church, that it may be for each and everyone a visible sacrament of this saving unity [9].
Returning to the First Reading, St. Paul says in verse 3: Remember before our God and Father your work of faith, your labor of love and your steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
As we have seen several times this faith needs to be reflected in our conduct. St. John Chrysostom teaches: belief and faith are proved by works; not simply by what one believes, but by real actions that are lived and fostered by a heart burning with love. This service of others for God’s sake is proof of charity or love.
St. Thomas Aquinas says: All are beloved by God, not just in the ordinary sense of having received natural existence from Him, but particularly because He has called us to eternal good.
Pope St. Pius X in a commentary on today’s Gospel says: Christ is addressing each one of us, urging us to be daring. Throw aside the pessimism that makes a coward of you. Throw out your nets for the catch. Don’t you see that like Peter, you can say, “If you say so Jesus, I will search for souls”.
Christ is telling you and begging you: The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Don’t take the easy way out. Do not say, I am no good at this sort of thing; there are others who can do it better. No! For this sort of thing there is no one else—He has called you. Each and every Christian has his/her calling. No one can claim an exemption of age, health or occupation. There are no excuses. Either we produce a fruitful apostolate or a barren one.
I began these reflections from 1 Thessalonians, verse 3 on faith and love. I will now conclude with steadfast hope. St. Paul encourages us to rejoice in hope and be patient in tribulation (Rom 12:12). St. Thomas tells us that hope is the virtue which enables one to endure adversity. Hope fills the soul with joy and gives it the strength to bear every difficulty for the love of God.
If you are to fall into temptation of wondering or even deeper into doubt, recall that the Gospel is preached not only in word but in power…in the power of the Holy Spirit who is the principal agent for evangelization; it is the Holy Spirit who impels each individual to proclaim the Gospel by his/her life. It is the Holy Spirit who in the depths of conscience causes the word of salvation to be accepted and understood (Pope Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, 75).
St. Paul concludes today’s lesson saying: you have become imitators of the Lord because you have received His word in much affliction, and with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit, so that you have become an example to all who believe.
A feature of the joy of the Holy Spirit is an uncontainable happiness that grows even out of affliction and sorrow. In the natural course of events afflictions do not produce joy. Joy is the privilege of those who accept suffering for Jesus’ sake. It is one of the fruits bestowed by the Holy Spirit.