I’m not in the habit of inflicting my homilies on a wider audience than my congregations. At least they have the chance of getting a few years off Purgatory for having to listen to me. Also, my random thoughts on the gospels are really not worth publishing (no comments about what I do publish). Here, though, I offer a few thoughts that lead on from my sermon on Sunday past.
As we’ve already clicked, this year we are listening to the Gospel of Luke. Luke, as I mentioned way back last year (there’s a ham-fisted attempt to get you to look back through my reflections), is a master story teller.
One of his major themes focuses on how the Word of God is preached and has a real effect on peoples’ lives. He brings this all together marvelously in the gospel passage from last Sunday. If we remember, it’s the story of how Jesus asks Simon to put out into deep water for a catch, after he and his partners have been fishing all night and caught nothing.
They make a miraculous catch, and this leads to the definitive call of Simon, James and John. This whole story takes place in the context of the preaching of the Word of God, and the gradual hold it takes over Simon and his partners. We see how Simon responds to each of Jesus’ requests and how, despite Simon’s inadequacy as a fisherman and as a man, the grace of Christ transforms him and the situation totally.
Simon’s response to Christ takes place in the midst of his life and everything that is happening to him. Before this incident in Chapter 5, Jesus has already met Simon, and has in fact cured his mother-in-law. Simon is trying to get on with his job, has had a serious family illness (fevers killed in his day), is struggling to cope with the demands of life, and, yes, has met this guy called Jesus.
Simon has the courage to admit he is powerless. Jesus gives him the power to see everything in a new light. He sees himself not as a failure but as one capable of bringing others to God, which he does right away by bringing James and John with him to follow Christ.
The call of the gospel is always to look at yourself and others in a totally different way.
The call always comes in the midst of our own lifeworld, and indeed is best heard when everything gets so much that we actually stop and listen (sometimes through sheer exhaustion).
Stop, look, listen. Do not be afraid. Let’s take a few minutes just to do what Simon did and admit our failures to Christ. No one else need know!