A Word about the Readings
by Father Gethin
(The readings may be found here)
One of the most difficult challenges to our faith is our apprehension and acceptance of the sheer scale of God’s goodness towards us. “God so loved the world,” recounts St. John, “that He sent His only begotten Son.” Not a servant, but the Son: nothing is held back. All is given. It is the ‘all’ that overwhelms us, precisely because our fallen condition is continually given to negotiating terms, of so much for such and such a price. Only those things that fall within the scope of mortal means and mortal cost have meaning for us, only earthly treasures that may be weighed on earthly scales have value. In the rejection of His good purpose by our disobedience, our human family let go of the knowledge of the love of God, and chose instead to establish earthly, rather than heavenly, joys as our heart’s desire.
In the course of our conversion, therefore, we must not only unlearn our earthly-mindedness, but also allow God to restore our vision of His infinite and heavenly graces. This was the sense of the plank in our eye from last Sunday’s parable. Gradually we perceive a new creation appearing in the presence of Christ, who is Himself ‘the first fruits’, and so we find how we need not only to repent, but to be reborn.
All this is summed up in today’s Gospel: “Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing; nevertheless, at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they enclosed a great multitude of fishes, and their net brake.” Convicted by our Lord’s teaching, which is the new proclamation of the language of heaven, literally ‘the good news’, Peter gives way and permits his earthly limits to be overcome by the unlimited good purpose of God. The consequence is a blessing which his earthly capacity cannot contain. The nets break. Only the gathering of the community can receive so great a gift. Peter himself is overwhelmed with the implications of the event. He sees his own sin in a new way, as his own imposed limit on grace, and in a sudden moment of pure and unlimited shame asks to be left alone, even as his sin demands, “depart from me, for I am a sinful man.” But his confession is also the doorway for restoration. Jesus will not leave, because, as He will tell them, He comes not to do His own will, but the Father’s, and the Father desires our fellowship. God loves us. Jesus remains, and as the Gospel proclamation enters the lives of sinful men, it reclaims them, not for new earthly labours, but for an eternal and heavenly vocation, the work of God: “Fear not, from henceforth thou shalt catch men.”
The epistle spells out what that vocation is to be like, how we shall accomplish heaven’s limitless goodness in this world of sinful limits: “Be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous; not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called.” We become the human means of divine purpose, praying always that, “this world may be peaceably ordered by His governance,” even as we “sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts,” Himself the measure of our infinite worth to God.