(Our Lady of the Assumption Church, Park Ridge: 8am; Saint Catherine’s Church, Jimboomba: 5.30pm)
10 February 2013
(Readings: Is 6:1-8; Ps 137; 1 Cor 15:1-11; Lk 5:1-11)
On Wednesday we begin the Lenten period of preparation for Easter. Ash Wednesday – this Wednesday – there will be two Masses with distribution of the ashes at St Bernardine’s – 9am with the school, and a second Mass at 7pm. There is also the 9am Mass at St Paul de Chartres. Don’t forget that Ash Wednesday is a day of fast and abstinence: the law of fasting binds those between the ages of 18 and 59, and the law of abstinence from meat binds everyone 14 and over.
The six weeks of Lent are meant to be a time of spiritual renewal. Lent is a time when we can make a commitment to do some things we don’t normally do. The three pillars of prayer – fasting – and almsgiving are held out to us. The parish is offering extra prayer times on Mondays during Lent with the Lectio Divina (the booklets for that are at the doors of the church), and also stations of the cross on Wednesdays during Lent. To assist our almsgiving we have project compassion – and the envelopes for that are available today as well. Lent is a time to practice self denial, and also a time to take on extra things.
I encourage you – if you haven’t already – to ask the Holy Spirit’s guidance over the next few days to reveal to you what the Lord would like you to take up – or leave behind – during Lent.
A couple of Sundays ago when we reflected on the gospel of the wedding feast of Cana, we heard the Blessed Virgin Mary’s words: Do whatever he tells you. Today we see another example of what happens when someone does whatever he tells them. And just like at the wedding in Cana, what Jesus asks Simon Peter to do went against logic and common sense. They had just been fishing all night, and caught nothing. What use is it to put the nets out again. And yet, Simon had just been listening to Jesus teach the crowd from the boat, and so obviously something had touched his heart. So he doesn’t dismiss Jesus’ command – but rather agrees to do what he commands.
The huge catch of fish makes Simon realize who he is, and in whose presence he is in: Leave me Lord, I am a sinful man.
A similar thing is reported in the first reading. “In a majestic vision Isaiah finds himself in the presence of the thrice-blessed Lord and is overcome by great awe and a profound feeling of his unworthiness. But a seraph purifies his lips with a burning coal and wipes away his sin. Feeling ready to respond to God’s call, he exclaims, ‘Here I am, send me!’” (Benedict XVI, Angelus, 7 February 2010).
In our second reading Saint Paul recalls why he is unworthy even to be called an apostle, because he had been one of the Church’s greatest persecutors. And ‘[y]et he recognized that the grace of God had worked wonders in him, and – despite his limitations, God had entrusted him with the task and honour of preaching the Gospel.” (ibid.)
In Isaiah, Simon Peter, and in Paul, a true encounter with God leads us to the truth of ourselves; “how an authentic encounter with God brings the human being to recognize his poverty and inadequacy, his limitations and his sins” (ibid.). But it doesn’t stop there. In spite of our weaknesses and limitations, God transforms our lives and calls us not just to follow him, but to be his apostles.
Saint Irenaeus teaches that we should learn from our sin and weakness: when we are conscious of our sinful nature, then we are able to recognize our condition as a creature, and this recognition places us before the clear evidence of a Creator that transcends us. When we realize that we are weak and sinful, then when God calls us we remember that we are mere instruments: it is God working in and through us – it is not our work. It is God who “makes human beings who are poor and weak – but have faith in him – fearless and heralds of salvation” (Benedict XVI, ibid.)
Let us always keep our eyes fixed on Jesus – on his mercy and forgiveness, who calls us who are weak and sinful, to “put out into the deep” – to be brave and zealous in being obedient to his will – to do whatever he tells us. “Let us overcome all fears and hesitation that we may rediscover how much God longs to bless us” (ibid.).