Christ, Healing Balm for Carnal Fish, Beleaguered Church, Multitudes without Hope
Luke 5:1-11, Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Two points seem especially salient for our beleaguered Church and society plagued by false dichotomy that obfuscates genuine difference: first, we are sinners and our abundant catch, caught at Jesus' command and our obedience to it, weighs us down with carnal fish yet does not sink us, for the gates of hell shall not tear us asunder; second, we cannot and thus ought not evangelize the Word to unbelievers as we do to our faithful. Faith heals us and gives us eyes of innocence so we can receive more fully the full revelation of Jesus our Christ.
Peter cries to Jesus, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man” (Luke 5:8).
For calling back to his consciousness the crimes he had committed, he is alarmed and trembles, and as being unclean, he believes it impossible he can receive Him who is clean, for he had learnt from the law to distinguish between what is defiled and holy. — Saint Cyril of Alexandria, The Golden Chain
Jesus our Christ on the cross is bigger than any sin we can commit, both individually, or corporately.
Peter speaks in the character of the Church full of carnal men, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man.” As if the Church, crowded with carnal men, and almost sunk by their vices, throws off from it, as it were, the rule in spiritual things, wherein the character of Christ chiefly shines forth. — Saint Augustine, The Golden Chain
We are called to trust Christ's mystical protection of the Church, no matter our sins, the sins around us, and the sins of the fish weighing down our Church boat with their carnal flesh.
But the filling of these ships goes on until the end of the world. But the fact that the ships, when filled, begin to sink, i.e. become weighed low down in the water; (for they are not sunk, but are in great danger,) the Apostle explains when he says, “In the last days perilous times shall come; men shall be lovers of their own selves, etc.” (2 Tim. 3:1, 2). For the sinking of the ships is when men, by vicious habits, fall back into that world from which they have been elected by faith. — Saint Bede, The Golden Chain
Such trust with wild abandon gives us eyes of innocence, revealing our own personal call to breathe God's unique breath into the world. Christ is always the way forward.
But the Lord allays the fears of carnal men, that no one trembling at the consciousness of his guilt, or astonished at the innocence of others, might be afraid to undertake the journey of holiness. — Saint Bede, The Golden Chain
Save us Lord from the sin of allowing the sin of others to cause us in frustration or fear or anger to abandon our post mending the nets and hauling them into your Most Holy Church!
But the Lord did not depart from them, shewing thereby that good and spiritual men, when they are troubled by the wickedness of the many, ought not to wish to abandon their ecclesiastical duties, that they might live as it were a more secure and tranquil life. But the bringing their ships to land, and forsaking all to follow Jesus, may represent the end of time, when those who have clung to Christ shall altogether depart from the storms of this world. — Saint Augustine, the Golden Chain
Now, to enflesh the second point. Saint Augustine, referring to the earlier verses in this passage:
But the Lord entering the ship, and asking Peter to put off a little from the land, signifies that we must be moderate in our words to the multitude, that they may be neither taught earthly things, nor from earthly things rush into the depths of the sacraments. — Saint Augustine, The Golden Chain.
As shepherds, called to “love one another ... as I have loved you,” and to “Go and make disciples of all nations,” we must know the incapacity of those who reject love for hate to hear and desire any depth of faith. First, they must come to realize hating sin is not hating the person who sins, but rather is loving them, that they might choose eternal life through Jesus our Christ instead of their current doom on the fallen world to eternal death.
The multitudes must come to know they have an eternal soul, an immortal soul, and God desires to save them into deep, abiding, eternal relationship with him through the redemption of Jesus our Christ. Until they see this truth, relativism is a powerful blinder which prevents hope in anything beyond carnal pleasure of the moment. This hopelessness leads to the desperate, prideful rejection of God and them being made in the image of God. Why be humbly obedient to gender, a gift from God, who doesn't make mistakes, when there is no God and there is the personal desire to find meaning in things without meaning, and pleasure in the moment. So too, marriage being between one man and one woman, life beginning at conception and human life having value, meaning, and purpose beyond reckoning from the moment of conception on. So too, all God's natural law and revelation.
First, we must assure the multitudes they have an eternal soul and are made in God's image and contain a unique breath of God, breathed into them at the moment of their conception. Only then does the meaning of sin have any consequence beyond death and only then is there reason to pay attention to the Word of God bringing light into the darkness of this fallen world.
May God startle you with joy!
The Golden Chain? Saint Thoman Aquinas’ amazing biblical commentary threading together faith writings from many Saint’s and holy writers preceeding him. Like sitting around a fire sipping whisky with the Saints talking about the day’s Gospel.
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