by Fr Richard Heilman | April 9, 2021 8:39 PM
The Gospel story today is the one Pope John Paul II set as the foundation for his new millennium appeal, in his Apostolic Letter: Novo millennio ineunte (At the beginning of the new millennium). This is the classic scene in which Jesus tells Peter to “Put out into deep water (duc in altum), and let down the nets for a catch.” Peter’s response is: “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” They proceed to catch the maximum amount of fish their nets can hold. Peter, filled with awe and wonder once he realizes he is in the presence of divinity, does not feel worthy to be called. But Jesus says, “Do not be afraid, from now on you will be fishers of men.”
Why did the Holy Father choose this particular Gospel reading as the basis for his new millennium master plan? Because Peter’s words — “We’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything” — could not speak any more directly to the modern tsunami-like wave of secularism rolling across our planet, as well as our endless parade of parish programs that are mostly done as though God were not there (etsi Deus non daretur).
In other words, the story of the great catch is meant to show that when we try to move only under our own natural power without God (we’ve worked hard), we will flounder in the chaos of darkness (all night) and come up empty (caught nothing) every time. Jesus asks us to get in sync with him (to obey him) and not be afraid to set aside our superficial (man-powered) tendencies, as we enter the depths of a supernatural (God-powered) life.
Everything in the religious order — sacraments, devotions, teaching, scripture, moral discipline, preaching, etc. — is meant to bring us to this deeper state of being, to this Divine Connection. Jesus calls it “abiding” (Jn 15:4). The Latin for this is maneo which means “to remain” or “to stay” or “to endure” (or like the Marine Corps’ semper fi). This Divine Connection, this conformity to love, this participation in the Divine Life of God is the very power of the Holy Spirit and is referred to as being in a state of grace.
Yet, in our time, so many calls to NOT be “too reverent.” So many calls to NOT be “too truth-y.” Why? Because if our religion “asks too much,” we won’t “reel in fish” … we won’t attract souls, because they “want Christ without the cross”; they want something easy and fun, but nothing that challenges them to move from offending God to pleasing God.
What. An. Abysmal. Failure!!
Fr. Dwight Longenecker’s amazing insights into “Why the Nones are Leaving.”
People are leaving religion in droves because it’s not religion anymore.
It’s become a charity with meetings on Sundays, and the problem is modernism. Modernism is the idea that the supernatural is out of date and unbelievable. The “de-mythologizers” tried to weed out all the miracles and supernatural elements from the gospels. For the last hundred years their influence has gained in seminaries and pulpits across the world.
Tales of the supernatural had to be removed. They didn’t fit with the modern world. Doctrines about devils and angels, heaven and hell had to be quietly excised from the faith because they were primitive and medieval and incredible to modern folk. Transubstantiation? A pious medieval philosophical explanation of what we all know is really symbolic. Supernatural revelation? No. Religion is all man made. Miracles? We know they don’t really happen. (You can read the rest HERE)
Unless and until we recover the “supernatural” and, like the first Apostles – once ignited by the Holy Spirit – receive their backbone to preach “truth to power,” we will continue to erode as an insignificant “Non-government organization” or just another social club, among many.
It’s high time our Catholic Church goes deep!
Today’s sermon speaks to this:
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