Homily: Rediscover your great need for Christ
By Mons. Peter:
There is a New Zealand-Australian artist (Angela by name). She updates, in one of her paintings, the classic Greek myth about Narcissus who is preoccupied with HIMSELF. In the night, in one of her paintings, she has a film crew at a Sydney swimming pool watching and getting a close-up of Narcissus gazing into the blackened water of the pool. Easy to put that into a contemporary setting. These days so many stretch out their phones and take multiple “selfies”.
It is so easy in our fast-moving, consumer society for people to become preoccupied with SELF. Fortunately, in our schools, teachers encourage our children to make friends with others and to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. As an example, on Friday some parents were able to enjoy the work Andrew Chin did with our students when they joined with him in some of his songs that they learnt about praising God for the beautiful world around us.
If you think about the readings today, they prompt us to look at ourselves to see if we endeavour to recognise God to be our source of life. We cannot do this all the time, but if we are seeking to live prayerful lives, we can tune into this as we go about our daily routine from time to time. You may think – “Oh, I wouldn’t be here at Mass if I did not acknowledge Him to be ‘the One in whom we live, move and have our being’.
Sometimes we find that it is when we are in desperate need or feeling very fragile that we tend to discover God in a deeper way. That happens in the readings today. Both the prophet Isaiah and the apostle Paul echo Peter’s words of self-reproach - “depart from me, O Lord, I am a sinful man!”
It is sometimes true that when we are at our lowest point we re-discover our great need for Christ, our need for Grace. In the Gospel today, we find that in such a situation, Jesus provides more than enough. There is a strong message for us in this gospel scene. I put it this way “there is always a plentiful bounty with Jesus – He surpasses every expectation (if we allow Him by giving Him entrance into what is going on in our lives). Look at Simon Peter – when experience teaches Simon there is no hope “we worked hard all night but caught nothing” – Jesus encourages him nonetheless. Moreover, Jesus provides excess. Peter learns to turn to the Lord. He learns to allow himself to be “surprised by God’s grace”.
This Gospel scene tells us something important about true discipleship. We have to open ourselves up to the true munificence of the divine. Simon knows he did not earn this miraculous catch but it was a “free gift”. That same gratuitous generosity of God is available to us - if we are open to receive it. When we recognise it, the only response is to ‘praise God’
Somebody (I think it was as famous musician) said this “cracks allow the light to get in”. Rather than being a cause for shame, our flaws may be a way in which God is speaking to us. As human beings, we all have weaknesses. These may sometimes be the very means of helping us to be more open to the gift/grace of God who wants to meet us precisely wherever we are. Recognizing our weaknesses may help us die to our own self- importance and grandiosity and acknowledge that the good things that we have are a gift of God. A key thing that comes in the readings today is that just as with Peter, the failings of Isaiah and Paul do not dissuade God from calling each of them to be of service.
I finish with a couple of questions –
In the 2nd reading, Paul reminds the Corinthian community, that he has been a witness to Christ to them, who has been a witness of faith for you? How are you a witness of faith for others – especially in the family?
When Peter was protesting to Jesus about his own sinfulness, Jesus tells him “Do not be afraid”. Are there things in your life where fear of failure keeps you from attempting something new? Can you hear Jesus telling you – “Do not be afraid!”
*Fifth Sunday Ordinary Time, YEAR C