The Power of God’s Love

9.6.18 Thurs. wk. 22 – O. T.  (II)
Corinthians  3:  18 – 23
Gospel  Luke  5:  1 – 11

While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God, he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret.  He saw two boats there alongside the lake; the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets.  Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.  After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”  Simon said in reply, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.”  When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing.  They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come to help them. They came and filled both boats so that they were in danger of sinking.  When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”  For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him, and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners of Simon. Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”  When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything* and followed him.   The Gospel of the Lord.

Homily:  Fr. Mike Murphy                            The Power of God’s Love

Do we realize how much God loves us – even when we give Him all kinds of reasons not to love us?  Despite our disobedience, despite our willfulness, God does not turn away – but continues to shower us with His grace and with His love.  Let’s reflect on three biblical characters – people whom God overlooked their weaknesses – filled them with grace – and they accomplished great things for the Lord.

In the Old Testament we have the story of Isaiah.  Isaiah came to God who called him to be His prophet.  And as we read in the Scriptures – all Isaiah could do was to complain about his unworthiness.  “Woe is me, I am doomed for I am a man of unclean lips, living among people of unclean lips”. (Is.6:5)  God already knew that about Isaiah – but He called him anyway.  He called him to be His prophet.  And then God declared: “Your wickedness is removed – your sin is purged”. (Is.6:7)  When God calls us – He will make everything right for us so that we can respond.  He will take away all our sins – He will help us in our weaknesses so we can accomplish His will.  Then God sent Isaiah as His messenger – and Isaiah became one of the most important prophets in Salvation History.  But at first – Isaiah did not think he was worthy at all – but God called him and filled him with grace.

Then †Jesus called Saul on the road to Damascus.  And Paul later admitted in his first Letter to the Corinthians: “I am the least of the apostles and not fit to be called as an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God.” (1 Cor. 15:9)  Paul did persecute the Church of God.  He was a Jewish Fundamentalist – conducting a Holy War against Christianity.   Yet – God chose him to carry the Good News to the Gentiles and †Jesus gave Paul a chance to change.  Paul accepted it – and Paul did change.  He wasn’t perfect, he still had that ‘Thorn in the flesh’ (whatever it was) but he was on his way.  Paul was a grateful man – and he boasted of God’s love for him in his First Letter to the Corinthians: “By the grace of God I am – what I am”. (15:10) He recognized he could do nothing – but with God’s grace – all things are possible.  A hater of Christians – can become an apostle.

And then in today’s Gospel we have Peter.  †Jesus asked Peter for a small favor: ‘Just put your boat out in the water – I want to make a point about something’.  What did Peter do?  He complained: “Lord, we have been fishing all night long” (Luke 5:5); ‘we have been out there – we are tired – give us a break’.  Imagine the arrogance – the sarcasm – spoken to †Jesus.  After they caught a boatload of fish – Peter would say to †Jesus: “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man”. (Luke 5:8) †Jesus could have said: ‘yeah you’re right – you won’t see me again’.   But He didn’t.  †Jesus did not give up on Peter – but He called Peter to be part of His Mission.  And later – †Jesus appointed Peter to be the head of the apostles.  What was †Jesus thinking?  †Jesus wasn’t thinking at all –  †Jesus was loving!  He was loving Peter – giving him a chance – another chance.  †Jesus gave Peter many chances – we know that from the Scripture – and Peter was so grateful – he gave his life for †Jesus.

All three of these people benefited from God’s grace.  By their own admission – they did not deserve it – but they received it – worked with it – and cooperated with God’s grace.  God did not give up on them – as He doesn’t give up on us.  Do we realize how much God loves each one of us – here – who are ready to receive the Body and Blood of †Jesus?  We are ready to receive the most Holy Eucharist?  In all honesty – do we deserve to receive this gift?  No, we don’t… because we have all treated God so badly – at times!  But †Jesus will never give up on you – ever!   †Jesus continues to give you His grace – to shower you with His love – to give you more and more chances – hoping you will accept it  – and asking you to cooperate with His grace.

In the 15th century, mystic, Thomas a Kempis wrote this about the grace of God.  The grace of God is: “The Mistress of Truth – the Teacher of Discipline – the Light of the Heart – the Consoler in Anguish – the Banisher of Sorrow – the Expeller of Fear – the Nourisher of Devotion.  What are we without grace?   Dead wood – to be cast away”!

The Holy Spirit fills us with grace – so – receive God’s grace with joy.  Cooperate with God’s grace with gratitude – and even though others may think that is crazy – St. Paul reminds us: “The wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God”. (1 Cor.3:19f)

     In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.