Thursday September 1, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier†† Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Colossians 1:9-14)††† Gospel (St. Luke 5:1-11)
In the Gospel reading today, we hear Simon Peter falling in the boat at the knees of Jesus, the boat filled all the way to the top with fish. Seeing what had happened, Peter recognizes Who Jesus is, and he falls down before Our Lord and says to Him, Leave me, Lord, for I am a sinful man. Note the humility that Peter had, the same kind of humility that we need to have as we come before the Lord. It is a very easy thing for us to fall (instead of on our faces with repentance) into the attitude that the Pharisee had in another Gospel passage where we come before the Lord and in essence tell Jesus that He is lucky we came to see Him because we are so wonderful, after all, and He should be overjoyed that we are there. Well, He is overjoyed that we are there, but we certainly ought not to be thinking that we have made His day because we came to pray Ė it is the other way around.
So we need to have that attitude of humility, especially when we hear the words of Saint Paul when he tells us that God has delivered us from the kingdom of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of His beloved Son, through Whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sin. Again, all we have to do is remind ourselves where we have been, that if we have been delivered from the kingdom of darkness it is because we were headlong into sin, because what we deserve from our sins is to go to hell, pure and simple. We need to acknowledge that; by ourselves, that is all we can do. We can sin and we can be condemned for eternity because of our sinfulness, but because of the mercy of God shown to us in Jesus Christ, we have redemption, we have the forgiveness of our sins offered to us. Therefore, we can walk in the light as children of the light. We have been freed from the darkness of sin and of death; therefore, we need to live in accordance with that. First of all, to acknowledge humbly where we have been and what we really are all by ourselves. Then we need to acknowledge also the mercy of God, the goodness that He has shown to us, to be so grateful for that, to have the same kind of attitude as Simon Peter when we come before the Lord that we are not worthy to be there. And we are not. By our own selves we can never be worthy, but by the Word of God we are made worthy. That is exactly what Saint Paul tells the people, that they have been made worthy. We are too, so we can come before the Lord, not on our own merits, but by the merits of Christ.
If we can come before Him with that kind of an attitude, then we are also going to hear from Him something similar to what Peter heard: Do not be afraid; from now on you will be fishers of men. Now how that is going to work out in each of our lives is going to be different. Obviously, Peterís call was as an apostle, to go out and preach and lead the Church. It may not exactly be the same for each of us, and it does not matter. The fact is that if we are willing to humble ourselves before the Lord, then and only then can He send us out on whatever mission He wants us to be on. So it is, again, not enough to acknowledge it in our head; it is a matter of getting it down into the heart and really embracing the reality of what is going on, the reality of our own sinfulness, the reality of our own unworthiness, the reality of Godís mercy, the redemption we have in Jesus Christ through the forgiveness of our sins which makes us worthy to come before the Lord, and thereby makes us worthy to do His Will.
*† This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.†††††††