The readings were taken from Thursday Week 22 Ordinary Time Year II
Opening hymn: Praise to You, O Christ, Our Saviour
The first reading was from 1 Corinthians 3: 18-23, a passage where we are told that have to learn to be a fool before we can truly be wise. The Lord knows how useless the thoughts of wise men are. Anything human has no reason to boast.
The responsorial psalm was part of Psalm 23(24), one of the Davidic psalms used when entering the Temple, with the sung response 'To the Lord belongs the earth, the earth and all that fills it.'
The Gospel reading was from Luke 5: 1-11 about Jesus standing by Lake Gennesaret, and getting into the boat of a fisherman (Simon Peter's) to sit and teach those listening on the shoreline. Afterwards Jesus tells Simon to put out into deep water and let down his nets to fish. The catch of fish fills two boats to almost sinking point. Jesus tells them not to be afraid, because from now on it is men they will catch.
In the Bible the question of who knows what is always decisive. The difference between God and humans was understood differently by pagans and believers. For believers, God knows everything and us, we do not. For pagans it was a case of who lives longer determined who was divine and who was human. Peter was a professional fisherman. He knows this lake like the back of his hand. He caught nothing all night long, therefore there are no fish. This Rabbi doesn't know what he is talking about. The professional fisherman doesn't have a clue. Jesus knows and Peter doesn't. Surprise. Surprise. Peter thinks God can have nothing to do with sinful human beings. He thinks he knows God's law, and expects that God relates to sinners with 'go away, you are incompatible with Me'. Jesus does not walk away. He embraces the sinner and says 'Come follow Me'. He does the exact opposite. The real God doesn't walk away, He says 'You come and walk with Me'. Let us listen to the only One who does know the truth in this Year of Mercy. Let us listen to Him, Who can teach us who God is, who we are, and what our relationship is. We live in a world that thinks it knows, and in fact knows so little and at times knows nothing. We come to listen to the foolishness of God and to find a far greater wisdom so that we can find Christ and belong to Him Who belongs to God.
Offertory Hymn: Psalm 130(131) I have not gone after marvels too great. My soul in silence and peace rests as a child in its mother's arms.
Communion Hymns: 1.We have been told :2. The Servant Song
Recessional Hymn: The voice of God goes out through all the world.
It is always a special gift to celebrate Mass together with the other conference participants, bishops, clergy, religious, laity from Oceania and locals. When a bishop preaches the Word of God gets opened up at a deeper level than usual; and when the people of God gather together as representatives of the nation and region, God speaks through the readings and the homily to the nation and to the region. In some ways the conference Mass is God's daily Keynote address to us.
Coming straight after Cardinal Wuerl's talk, these readings had a special resonance. The message seemed to be, 'The time of preparation and learning is done. It is time to act. Get out there and put what you have learned into practice. I promise your efforts will be extraordinarily fruitful. You won't be working alone, I will be side by side with you.'
This time I also included the hymns, because in them, too, God speaks to us.
Jesus still used Peter's fishing skills and expertise, but got him to use them in a place outside Peter's usual comfort zone. What wasn't working in the shallows and medium waters, did work out in deep water.
But let us pray for each other, since some of us are still in the 'I've been fishing all night with no result' situation – wondering where God is and whether He has abandoned us; whether He cares that all our efforts for Him and His lost ones have been so fruitless; and why we should bother continuing to try. Sometimes He keeps silence and with Newman we have to hope that even our perplexity may serve Him, until He reveals what He is about.
Our Lady, Help of Christians, pray for us.
In the next issue will be notes from the very good Workshop on Discerning Charisms with Clara Geoghegan.