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Homily for the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2022

by | Feb 6, 2022

The commercial fishing industry makes a significant economic contribution to the New Brunswick economy. The commitment of more than 7,000 fishermen and 8,000 plant workers to delivering quality products makes New Brunswick a leader in the commercial and processing fisheries sectors.

Our province is the fourth largest exporter of fish and seafood products in Canada with a value of $832 million, exporting nearly 100,000 tonnes of fish and seafood annually. Then we have fishing for sport. Soon, smelt will be fished… little huts will dawn the Saint John River in Renforth and other key places where many will catch and feast on these small sweet delicacies.

Today’s gospel is also known as “the miraculous catch of fish.” Jesus is at Lake of Genesaret which by the way is same body of water as Sea of Galilee, and Sea Tiberius. The story unfolds… Jesus is teaching the crowds, but they keep pressing in or pushing in on him so that they can hear him. He sees two empty boats that could help and protect him. The fishermen are done for the night and so they’re washing up. Jesus speaks from boats… sound travels on water. And these guys would have heard what he was saying along with the crowds.

After teaching crowd, Jesus tells the same fishermen to put out deep water and lower their nets. No doubt, tired and discouraged from a long fruitless day, Peter doesn’t want to cooperate… “we worked all night and caught nothing.” And yet, they do what Jesus asks and the catch was great. Shock and awe must have penetrated their tired hearts.

And so we heard what happens. In face in the divine, in sunshine of God’s love we see our shadows… That’s what happen to Peter… He says to Jesus, “Go away from Lord, for I am a sinful man! Peter misses the mark, which will be an ongoing theme for him. Like Isaiah, in the First Reading and Paul in the Second, they all question their worthiness to commit themselves to God. The story concludes by Jesus telling Peter, “you will be catching people. When they brought their boats ashore, they left everything and followed Him. A Beautiful reading!!

What were these guys thinking when they come to the shore and leave nets behind? What had they heard in Jesus’ teaching that touched their hearts? Was it gratitude as they looked at all the fish and thinking of their lives and what Jesus has done?

What about us? Those nets are symbolic of the entanglement of our lives. Do we see our nets or our lives empty or full? What are the things that we can look at in our own nets and see God’s presence in our lives? Just as nets are washed and repaired by fishermen, we too need to do the same in with our lives… our nets. And so, when we look at things in our life… in our net, at the things that God has done for us, what is it that we see that calls us to follow Jesus? Hopefully we see our net filled with the knowledge of God’s unconditional love!

For those fishermen to walk away from their nets, boats, way of life, and leave all behind took a lot of courage. What is it that we need to leave behind? Or perhaps we need to take a step back and ask ourselves, “where are we casting our nets to get the best catch?” In the bulletin this week, we are invited to participate in a Synod. From those original questions which were awful, we came up with 6 simple questions that captured the spirit of the original questions to answer.

Pope Francis has cast this net, looking for what we want to see in our church… what direction should the institutional Church be taking in this day and age? What are our thoughts and feeling and desires? An acceptance of all people? The inclusion of divorced and remarried Catholics? More women in the top government of the church to help make major decisions? The full embrace of the LGBTQ community. A married priesthood or a priesthood that ordains women? We are invited to put everything in this net. Let the catch be great.

This is the beginning of Jesus public ministry. I have said to Fr. Tom, “Jesus should have chosen farmers instead of fishermen to follow him because as Christians, we are always planting seeds here and there. And yet when I read this gospel, I can see why Jesus chose fishermen? Fishermen are patient, they know how to bait, they know where to look for fish, and they know when to move on, and they’re comfortable in storms. And it is hard work.

God calls us to call others into the deep waters, to the unknown, to that meaningful place to the very the mystery of God’s love. With this and the gospel in mind, we should ask ourselves, ‘are we willing to cast out the nets of our lives where Jesus invites us?’ Amen.