Sunday, February 10, 2013

Nothing But Net (2013-02-10)

This is my homily for SUNDAY 10 February  2013. I am a Catholic chaplain in Teaneck at Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) campus and for the FDU Newman Catholic Association and at New Jersey City University (NJCU) in Jersey City. We celebrate Catholic Mass - during Fall and Spring semester - every Sunday Evening (5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.) at the FDU University Interfaith Chapel, 842 River Road, Teaneck, NJ.

5th Sunday, 10 February 2013

[Isaiah 6:1-2a, 3-8 | Psalm 138 | 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 |  Luke 5:1-11]

TITLE:  Nothing But Net (2013-02-10)

[__01]  Peter , the accomplished and experienced sailor  and fisherman – has encountered someone , Jesus, with superb (superior) expertise of the water, climate, fish.

In this episode, Peter wants to call it a night having caught no fish.

From the water what the fishermen pull is NOTHING BUT NET.   (Great news, yes, on jump shot or 3-pointer; here, not so much.)

Then,  Jesus says, row out, 1 more time.

[__02]       A common biblical phenomenon is the manifestation/demonstration of God’s power on the lake, on the water:

·         Red Sea, the Exodus – the Jewish people cross from death to life with “Egyptian horse and chariot cast into the sea”  (Exodus ___)

·         Sea of Galilee – Jesus calms a storm

·         And, later on the Sea of Galilee – Jesus – and Peter for a little while – walk on water.

[__03]     The greatness of God’s power, the holiness of Jesus is revealed to us, to Peter in these instances.

In the Lord’s presence, Peter feels distress, anxiety, awareness of his personal sinfulness, saying, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”  (Luke ___)

[__04] The Good News is that the Lord wants Peter to encourage Peter – to encourage us – especially when we become aware of our own weakness, brokenness, sinfulness.

[__05]   Are we not often reminded by others – or called by others – to untie our boats – or untie ourselves from discouragement?

-          In school – teachers (parents too) remind us to open our books, our homework – each day – even for the overwhelmingly difficult subject. To use our energy, our efforts – even when we do not seem to be catching on …. Or catching anything.

-          In relationships, are we not sometimes surprised that our cheerfulness or our punctuality really matters to other people. Even we do not feel motivated to smile, to be on time… then we are also called to untie our boats and get moving.

-          In prayer, we are reminded to pray – just one more time for the difficult person – even his or behavior does not change, we are changed by going offshore .. by using our prayer time to ask for God’s help with the difficult person.

-          And, in repentance/confession,  we are called to admit our faults – even the same faults so that we are reminded that we are truly free … even if we have sinned.  Jesus is not telling Peter is NOT a sinner… but Jesus is  telling  Peter he remains free.

[__06]    Peter is asked to take a reasonable risk – a reasonable dare – by going out with his boat.

But, at first, Peter is discouraged feeling he is not good enough… or that some other truly good person would be more appropriate.

Sometimes, you and I – and Peter – believe – hook, line and sinker – that only certain people can attain goodness …

But, it is even Jesus who attains goodness while being fully human and fully divine. He is our example.

[__07]     C.S. Lewis, a writer of both novels and spiritual works from England, writes this about faith and about our journey to holiness and our journey to Christ. This involves risk – daring – even temptation.

C.S. Lewis writes:

No man [person] knows how bad he is until he has tried very hard to be good.  A silly idea is [out there at the SUB, in the Lindens, Northpointe, the Courts, on the playing field or court, or classroom ...  or in our house or heart] … a silly ideas out thtere is that good people do not know what temptation means …. [or that] good people are not tempted by evil.”

Lewis continues with this metaphor:

You find the strength of the wind by trying to walk against it [1]…and in our efforts towards holiness, goodness, the wind is not always at our backs

So, the Good News for Peter and for us…is not EXCLUSIVELY that Jesus is perfect and sinless.. C.S. Lewis is writing also that the The Good News is that Jesus is a complete REALIST, having also known temptation and known our struggles.

[__08]      Each time that we open our hearts – or open or books when we are anxious … each time that  we pray .. or admit our faults, confess our sins.

We do this because we have also been called by Christ who strengthens us… even we have nothing but net,

Even when the wind and rain (or snow) are against us.     [__fin à trans à blessing]   

[1] C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity,  “Ch. 11 Faith ” page 142.

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