YEAR C: HOMILY/REFLECTION FOR THE 5TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
THEME: OBEDIENCE TO GOD
BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
Gospel: Lk 5:1-11
Message # 113: “What Are You Afraid of?”
- The Marian Message
a) The Blessed Mother acknowledges the fact that we are living in difficult and troubled times. This is particularly true with regards to her children who try their best to faithfully live the Gospel. She mentions about the violence of the world, the attacks of Satan, the errors being spread all over and the sins and infidelity of people (letter j).
b) These things most surely will make us afraid and may immobilize us. But the Blessed Mother assures us: there is nothing to fear since this is a call from the heavenly Father to undergo this purification, and the Blessed Mother has chosen us and prepared us for this hour (letter o).
c) Finally she exhorts us to live “in serenity of spirit and without fear, even in the midst of the anxieties and threats of your time” (letter p). Let us not be obsessed with trying to know what the future will look like: “do not be always peering into the future to see what is going to happen” (letter q). What we need to do is just to live the present with complete trust and confidence in God and in the Blessed Mother’s care and protection.
- The Sunday Gospel
a) The gospel this Sunday is Luke’s version of the call of Simon Peter. The miraculous great catch of fish had such a big impact on Peter, that he clearly realized his unworthiness in the presence of Jesus: “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man” (5:8). Such has always been the disposition of the prophets called by God – humility and feeling of unworthiness in the face of the glory and majesty of God. But Jesus echoed the same admonition of God: “Do not be afraid” (5:10).
b) “Duc in altum! “Put out into the deep for a catch.” Pope St. John Paul II used this verse to call all the faithful to a new stage in the life of the Church at the turn of the new millennium. He said: “These words ring out to us today, and invite us to remember the past with gratitude, to live the present with enthusiasm and to look forward to the future with confidence: ‘Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever’” (Heb 13:8 – Novo Millennio Inuente, n. 1).
- Points for Reflection
a) God always makes His presence known to His people. In the first reading, the prophet described his encounter with the Lord: “I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne” (Is 6:1). This is a very rare vision, but real nonetheless. In the second reading, St. Paul narrates of how Jesus appeared to the apostles after his resurrection, and also about his own personal encounter with the Lord on the road to Damascus: “Last of all, as to one born abnormally, he appeared to me” (1Cor 15:8). And in the Gospel, Peter had his personal encounter with the divinity of Christ in his experience with the miraculous catch of fish. These are just instances in the Bible that remind us of the presence of God in our midst. He speaks to us and makes Himself present to us in so many different ways. However, we oftentimes do not realize this because we are more attuned to the things of this world than to the spiritual realities. This is a reminder to us that we have to be more sensitive to the Spirit of God and to the many and varied ways that God speaks to us in the Scriptures, in the sacraments and in the “signs of the times.” We have to open our eyes of faith in order to see God more clearly in our life. St. Paul said, “We walk by faith, not by sight.”
b) Face to face with the divine manifestations of Jesus, Peter was enlightened, and he saw ever more clearly his unworthiness and sinfulness. So he blurted out: “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” When we come nearer to the light, the dirty marks of our sins become more evident. That is why the saints, during their lifetime, despite their holiness of lives, were more humble and seriously sorry for their sins. They would go to confession almost every day! They have come nearer to the Light that they now see more clearly their unworthiness. Holiness is never possible without genuine humility. A person who is proud and selfish is definitely far from God; he lives in darkness. A holy person is always humble.
c) Jesus is a carpenter. Peter and the other disciples were fishermen. But in this instance, it was the carpenter who gives instruction to the fishermen how to catch. Naturally, his instruction is ostensibly impractical and senseless. First, it was already in the daytime. If the fishermen were unable to catch fish at night, it would be less likely for them to catch any in the daytime. Second, they were using nets to catch fish. This is most effective in shallow waters. But Jesus said: “Put out into deep water and lower your nets.” Surprisingly, the fisherman follows the instructions of the carpenter. Despite these unusual instructions, Peter believed and obeyed Jesus: “but at your command, I will lower the nets.” It is not human logic or professional skill or expertise that produces great results; ultimately, it is obedience to God that produces the best results.
d) Obedience to God is not that easy for most of us because, as St. Paul said, “God’s ways are not our ways.” That is why too often many people do not follow God’s will because it is not according to their own ideas and plans. It is therefore very important to learn to let go of our own plans and desires, and abandon ourselves to the will of God. After all, if our plan is not according to God’s will, it is tantamount to nothing and to pursue them will just be an exercise in futility. It is only God’s will and plan that will come to pass. When we accept and follow His will in our lives, we become powerful for it is God who will accomplish everything.
e) The Blessed Virgin Mary is the most perfect example of humble and total obedience to God. Her “Fiat” to God at the Annunciation was constantly renewed by her at every moment of her earthly life. She was “blessed among women” not only because she was the Mother of the Son of God, but more so because she was perfectly obedient to the will of the Father. Jesus asked, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers and sisters?” Then he said to his listeners: “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother” (Mk 3:34-35). Following Jesus is not a matter of talking, but of doing. The Book of Deuteronomy gives this timeless advice: “This command which I enjoin on you today is not too mysterious and remote for you. No, it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out” (Deut 30:11, 14).
f) Nowadays, there are more and more people who are considered “Cafeteria Christians.” They accept the Word of God, but only those things that are beneficial to them. If it contradicts their ideas and pre-conceived beliefs and poses challenges to their status quo, they would hear none of these. As a result, they would readily put aside the Bible and the teachings of Jesus, and turn to human teachers. There are people who do not practice meditation on the Word of God and totally abandon the Rosary, and instead, in order to gain peace of mind, they use Transcendental Meditation and yoga – which are not religious practices. There are those who believe in the doctrines of feng shui and the teachings of self-proclaimed prophets, but they do not believe and follow the teachings of the Church. And so, they end up more confused and in error, seriously jeopardizing their faith. St. Paul gave this warning: “the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires” (2 Tim 4:3).
- Closing – Pray and reflect on the “Prayer to Mother of Good Counsel.”