The Gospel this Sunday has Peter and the others fishing. They fish all night and they don’t catch a thing. Jesus tells them to set out into the deep and cast their nets again. They are professional fishermen, they know that there are no fish out there, but nevertheless they trust and hope. They cast their net again and they catch too many fish for one boat to handle. The Gospel ends with Jesus saying that He will make of them fishers of men.
There are a few points I want you to take from this Gospel.
First, fishing for souls is an essential part of the Church, of being Catholic. We call this evangelisation, and all too often we are afraid of even showing that we believe, let alone leading others. Nevertheless, if we have been touched by the Good News, and this ‘News’ is truly ‘Good’, than why would I not share it with others. Sometimes we don’t realise that it is perfectly normal for a Catholic to act Catholic. When we go out to eat at a restaurant, do we stop to make a sign of the Cross and say a prayer or are we afraid to show our faith in public. If we have had a good experience at Church can we share it with our family and friends? “Whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven” (Mt 10:33). A mature faith is not just about having a deep prayer life, this prayer life must extend into action, it must radiate from our hearts, that is why we say that evangelisation is essential to being a Catholic.
Second, we may spend all night fishing for souls and catch nothing, but in the end it is Christ who will bring the fish. This is very consoling. It is our role to work for God, it is God’s role to bring the fish into net. It is not for us to spend our days getting upset about the fact that we do not have enough people for this or for that. It is our role to intelligently serve the Lord with all of our Heart. He is the master of hearts and desires. Often throughout history, it has seemed as if the Church was not catching anymore fish and then all of a sudden something happens and people come to God by the thousands or even millions and the tides turn again, like with Our lady of Guadalupe, Lourdes, Fatima, Padre Pio, St. John Mary Vianney, St John Paul II, just to give a few examples.
I will conclude with this third point; hope and trust are also absolutely necessary in order to live as a Catholic today. St. Peter had to hope and to trust to set out into the deep and cast his nets one more time. So do we have to hope and trust, and set out into the deep to cast the nets of the Gospel yet again. It is Christ who asks this of us, it is Christ that will bring the fish to the nets. It is our role to have the Courage, to love and set out into the deep.
Fr Michael Therese