4th Sunday after Pentecost 21.6.15 Saving the world
From now on you will be fishers of men… The miraculous catch of fish symbolises the scope of Our Lord’s saving mission. He has come to save a great many people, as many as possible.
His target is not restricted to any nation or time, but open to whomever will accept the invitation to the banquet (Mt 22,1-10).
And the task of fishing for all these people is given to the Church. We acknowledge the task but we feel inadequate because of our own difficulties – personal lack of faith; and as regards the Church, crises of division and lack of confidence.
We can hardly get the boat out into the water, let alone be catching huge numbers of fish!
We are not attracting or retaining the youth. We are not generating the large number of vocations needed for the task. ‘The harvest is rich but the labourers are few’ (Lk 10,2)
Whatever the difficulties we can identify the task itself does not change. It is what we ought to be doing.
The Church knows the way to eternal life and possesses the means of salvation. The world, by contrast, does not know where it is going, has no vision, and tears itself apart trying to live without God.
It is a noble and necessary thing that the Church should seek to take the Gospel to the world.
He is risen - and all else that goes with the message – must be proclaimed, believed, and lived.
The task is too much for us? By ourselves, yes. But we have God to help us. Only by His power and grace is such a large project possible.
Just as the task does not change, nor does God Himself. He does not lose power with the passing of time. Nor does any amount of human denial or rejection of Him make any difference to His power.
He could swat the universe out of existence at any moment. He could demonstrate His power by any miracle. But He wants to be accepted in love not fear; so He holds back on the use of force.
The world continues to resist anyway. They want to argue every point about God – His existence, His relevance, His ways of doing things… this has always been the way. This vineyard takes a lot of attention!
So we have three things that have always been in place and do not change: the task of ‘fishing’ for large numbers of souls; the power of God to help us carry out this task; the resistance of the world to the plan.
The one thing that can change and needs to change is the faith level of the ‘fishermen’, meaning us.
We are too slow to believe, too quick to give up the task. We must allow the Lord to strengthen our faith, and to ignite our enthusiasm.
We have so many miracles to call upon to remind us of what has happened. We just need to make ourselves available so that His power can work in us and through us.
It is up to us whether we are more influenced by the worldly cynicism or the pure truth of Christ. We must ourselves be fished out of darkness, where we are inclined to remain (at least on some points).
If we are not capable of setting the world on fire we can at least bring the matches; bring what we have (five loaves and two fish, Jn 6,9). Humble faith (not little faith, but humble) combined with ready obedience, and we have the means of lighting a fire.
Like Peter obeying without seeing how it would work, this must be our habitual position. We do not have to know how it works. Just do the things required and leave the rest to God.