06 February 2010


5th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lk 5:1-11

There comes a time in our lives when we face the stark reality of our own weaknesses and failures. We clearly see our sins written in big strokes, and we know that, alone, we cannot correct our mistakes in life. Our feeling of helplessness, and, sometimes, even hopelessness, is very overwhelming that any dream for change seems to be just that – a dream. Tired and losing hope, we seem to be stuck. We wonder if anyone notices our depression. We doubt if God cares at all. Why should God give importance to sinners like us?

This seems to be the predominant sentiment in our readings this Sunday. With his vision in the Temple in Jerusalem, the Prophet Isaiah’s awareness of God’s holiness grew intense. But when he turned his attention to himself, it was not much of a vision: “What a wretched state I am in,” he said, “I am lost.” The Prophet saw God’s holiness as a very beautiful reality that highlighted his own sinfulness. He was very sad. But he did not wallow in his self-misery. When God offered him forgiveness, he accepted it. His belief in the truth of God’s forgiveness freed him to respond to God’s challenge. He was no longer preoccupied with his unworthiness and, released by God’s forgiveness, he committed himself to the mission God was inviting him to share: “Here I am, send me.”

The same is true with the gospel today. Simon Peter and his friends were seasoned fishermen. They knew that it was during the night when fish swim to the surface; thus, evening fishing was a logical routine for them. But they were out in the sea all night long catching nothing. The Carpenter then taught the fishermen. Jesus gave Simon Peter this advice: “Put out into the deep and lower down your nets for a catch.” Confident about his experiential knowledge of marine life, Simon Peter replied: “Master, we have worked all night long and caught nothing.” Perhaps, it was mere fatigue that kept him from arguing with Jesus. We do not discount growing faith in Jesus though. Thus, Simon Peter told Jesus, “…but if you say so, I will lower down the nets.” And, alas, a great catch! So great was the catch they made that the nets started to tear and the boats were about to capsize.

The Carpenter from Nazareth caught the fishermen from Galilee. Each of us, who follows this Carpenter, has his own fish-story to tell. All of us have been invited to go out fishing with Him. And all of us are also challenged by our sense of unworthiness. We all have been caught by Jesus and realized more than ever our “fish-iness”. But despite everything, Jesus is a stubborn fisherman: He makes fishermen out of fish.

When Simon Peter saw the hand of God in the events that unfolded before him, he likewise saw his own sinfulness before God. His pastoral advice to Jesus was to go and leave him because a sinful man like him should never be worth God’s trouble.

Happily, Jesus did not follow Simon Peter’s advice. Had Jesus listened to him, this gospel would not have been good news at all. For the good news in the gospel today is the miraculous catch of fish but the loving catch of fishy people like Simon Peter. The entire gospel, in fact, is about Jesus seeking and saving the lost (Cf. Lk 19:10). He journeyed into people’s lives. He approached them, not ran away from them. He mingled with sinners and sat at table with them, listening to their stories and challenging them unto a new way of living. Come to think of it, throughout His entire earthly life, Jesus was never far from sinners. Even in death, He hang between two of them.

Jesus wanted Simon Peter to share in the same mission; thus, He called Simon Peter away from his fixation with his own sinfulness and self-preoccupation. Simon Peter accepted his own unworthiness. That was already enough. That was already a good start. Jesus would continue the journey of conversion and guide Simon Peter in seeing himself as a leader who leads people closer to God, a leader whose convincing authority comes not from his own credentials but from the mercy of God whose first recipient he was. Jesus brought to fore Simon Peter’s importance and challenged him to do the same with others by becoming a fisher of men. This, Jesus does to us, too.

There is a wonderful lesson here for all of us. Yes, we are sinners but we are not worthless. Jesus never throws us away because we are dirty with our sins. He believes that each of us is not the sum total of his or her weaknesses, mistakes, failures, and sins. Jesus has other plans for us because He believes that sinners have a future, not only a past. For Jesus, we – sinners though we are – are not only worth dying for; we are worth rising for.

“Be not afraid” – Jesus tells us. “Come and let’s go fishing today” – He invites us. More than the catch we make with Him, it is our transformation from fish to fishers of men that is truly miraculous.

Jesus has caught us and our hearts are His forever. With Him, let us catch the others. For Him, let us lower our nets into the deep. There are more fish stories out there waiting to be heard. But they will never be heard, for their owners will not even dare speak, unless someone tells them – in a truly convincing way – that they are loved more than they know.


At 9:51 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Fr. Bobby,

It is just so electrifying that after reading your Homily, I believe together with all your readers, has that feeling - unexplainable feeling that we are tocuhed, loved, converted . I believe that the Holy Spirit is with us.

Your Love for Jesus, a clear reflection in your Homilies everytime brings us more and more closer to His Heart.

May we stand with you hand in hand to continue to Love Him, because from this feeling of Love,this will make us different.

Praying for you always.



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