Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Homily Fifth Sunday of the Year 7 February 2010

Homily began with Bill Cosby's "Noah" sketch...

...and was delivered without this text...


...Noah built the ark and God preserved in it the seed of the world’s future
during the great flood.
Noah’s obedience and perseverance were an instrument of abundant grace.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus offers a similar lesson

After He finishes teaching the crowd Jesus says to the disciples in the boats:
“Put out into the deep water and lower your nets for a catch!”

The disciples naturally wonder if this Jesus is a few bulbs short of a bright light.
After all, what does a Rabbi know about fishing?
“We have worked hard all night and have caught nothing!” they reply.
They have just cleaned their nets and finished fishing,
and now Jesus wants them to start all over again and get everything soiled.

Nonetheless, Peter is moved by the presence of Jesus…and by His Word,
and He responds to the Lord’s command.

Putting out into the deep and lowering the nets is dangerous,
unusual for this time of day, and the last thing on their minds.
“Putting out into the deep”
means a challenge, a risk, a new and undesired experience.
It requires extending oneself in ways unforeseen
and uniting with others in mutual support to fulfill the challenge,
as the disciples came to each other’s aid when the nets began to tear.
Yet, putting out into the deep yields tremendous results when we trust in the Lord.

First, The Lord rewards in abundance our obedient response to His Word.
The disciples draw in a miraculous catch of fish –
so many that their nets and boats are weighed down
and unable to handle the load!
Even though we may not see it in this life…
even if the reward is great only in Heaven…
we still know that God’s love fills to overflowing
those who extend themselves to love and serve Him.

Second, the risk we take in putting out into the deep for the sake of the Lord
becomes a living witness that is attractive to others.
Jesus says to the amazed and stunned disciples:
“From now on you will be fishers of men!”
When we show that we are willing to extend ourselves for the sake of the Gospel
God reveals the bounty of His extravagant love
and others are caught in the “net” of our courageous example.
Men and women are captured for the Lord!
And this net is a net of tenderness and goodness
that draws them into the secure vessel of the Church,
where they find love, truth, and life.

Fathers of the Church compare Jesus in the boat to Noah.
Like Moses, the boat keeps safe the children of God. So does the Church.


Finally, the sight of all that our relationship with God yields leaves us awestruck.
At the sight of what the Lord has done, Peter falls to his knees in humility and awe.
The disciples leave everything behind…boats, equipment, livelihood, families…
because their encounter with the Word and presence of Jesus
has captured them and inspired them to dedicate their lives to Him.

Across the continents and down through the centuries
the experience of the early disciples has been the experience of the Church.
The Church is the boat, with Christ at the helm,
journeying through ever new and uncharted waters,
always called to put out into the deep
to extend herself into new arenas as people and cultures change
that she might bring the unchanging Gospel
into the lives of people everywhere.

The Church is strong because of the unity and mutual collaboration
of all the brothers and sisters of Christ throughout the world
who come to each other’s aid in times of challenge and need.

The Church responds to the Word of the Lord
“Go out and preach the Gospel to all nations”
by casting the net of God’s Word far and wide
and by standing as a witness to the unique splendor of the Gospel.
That net of truth, that captivating witness, and captures men and women for God,
drawing them into the boat, which is the Church,
where they are preserved and given new life
through the sacraments and the preaching of Word.
As Saint Paul writes to the Corinthians:
You hold firm in the Gospel that was preached to you by the Church
and through it you are being saved!

For us as well, in our journey of faith,
we are called to extend ourselves in ways unforeseen
in order to serve God, the Church, and one another.

We hear the Word of God spoken to us at Baptism, calling us to discipleship.
We hear the Word of God constantly in our Catholic life.
We can allow the Word to pass through one ear and out the other
or we can respond in obedience and put out into the deep…
go where it’s risky, unplanned, undesired, non-sensical.

Perhaps the Lord has closed one door and has yet to open another.

Perhaps He is asking you to move to a new town, accept a new job or position,
let go of material resources for the benefit of others in need,
speak up about injustice you see in our world,
sharing our faith with others who need to hear about Jesus.

Perhaps it is a new chapter in your spiritual life:
taking up that daily prayer we are always hearing about in Church,
beginning to study the Scripture and Catechism,
coming for the first time to a Lenten talk or mission.


When we hear the homily, the readings, the voice of God in our prayer,
we are inclined to say:
“Who me? No way! That’s for someone else.
Are you serious, Lord? Why do you want me to do these crazy things?”

But if we are honest, we know that God’s Word has touched us and has moved us

As we are working on a project in the basement, or out fishing, or in the office
or whatever it is we do each day, God will speak to us.

We are moved to say with the Prophet Isaiah: “Here I am! Send me!”
We are moved like Noah to do something remarkable for God.
We are moved like the disciples by Jesus’ Word to put out into deep water…
to leave everything and follow Jesus.

God will use us as witnesses to capture men and women in the net of faith.
He will preserve us and make our boats to overflow with His love!

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