Fourth Sunday after Pentecost – The Wonderful Draught Of Fishes

 
 

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Our Lord was so kind to all, and worked so many miracles, that His fame traveled far and wide; from all quarters of Judea the people sought Him and crowded about Him in immense and ever-increasing numbers. His words bore with them so much grace, that they melted every heart, even the hardest. He was “full of grace and truth.”  Consider, my dear children, the anxiety of that crowd to hear the word of God; they follow Him along the shores of the lake, through the desert, and through the country. They leave their trades, their daily avocations; they forget even the necessary food for the body, their rest, their sleep. Tell me, my dear young people, do we find this same love for the word of God among the young people of to-day? Instead, we find disgust for a sermon, and our young folk staying away from church because a sermon is to be preached. In vain do parents and teachers advise them. How blind they are not to see the necessity of listening to the word of God! But let us hope that you, my children, are not of that number; that you will listen with attention and keep the words you hear in your heart, where they will be the food of your souls.

 

As soon as Our Lord had finished His discourse, He bid St. Peter row out into the lake and let down his net. Peter gave answer: “Master, we have labored all the night, and have taken nothing, but at Thy word I will let down the net.” We must admire the prompt obedience of Peter in thus casting the net. Everything had been put away after a fruitless night’s labor; but now, at Our Lord’s command, he obeys.  Do you obey with the same promptitude? We disobey our superiors in little things as well as in great. They tell us to avoid certain company which is the occasion of sin to us; that we should go to church and to the Sacraments. Do you, my good young people, always take heed of these instructions? I am afraid that you go where you like, and do as you please; there is no one whom you hold in sufficient respect to take a command from him. These are serious matters. It has now almost come to it, that a father and mother have to obey their children; this is not only a serious matter, but disorderly in the eyes of God. Let us see what Deuteronomy says of disobedient sons and daughters: They are to be taken outside the gates and stoned. This severity of the Old Testament no longer exists, though the State makes laws for disobedient minors, locking them up till they are of age. Still that severity of the Old Testament is a figure of God’s judgment for disobedience. Be obedient, then, my young friends, and docile to your parents and superiors. There is no more beautiful and attractive sight than to see an obedient son or daughter, respectful in every way to his or her parents; such obedience will bring down a blessing from almighty God, according to the promises made in the Old Testament.

 

I would like to say a word about the answer Peter made to Jesus, “Master, we have labored all the night and have taken nothing.” These words can be put into our mouth in many instances; all our life we have worked, but what have we for it? The days of our life are gliding by uselessly, we have labored in vain. 0! let us awake at the command of Our Lord and do something; let us not pass our time in sleep or in labor that is all fatigue and no gain. We do everything for the body; we feed and care for it, clothe and wash it, give it exercise to keep it supple, and this body is soon to end and be carried to the grave; but what do we do for the well-being of our soul? We do but little, as if we were not spiritual beings.

 

Oh, when the misguided people who have been so busy through life, come to the hour of their death, then they will see the truth of the words: “We have labored all the night and have taken nothing.” A certain worldly man, who was not a bad Christian, was on his death-bed; certain acts of his gave him great concern; the confessor was at hand and tried to inspire him with confidence in the mercy of God, for the action which he bewailed so much was after all a small matter. “Ah!” replied the dying man, “dear Father, wait until you have the blessed candle in your hand, and the hour of your death near; then you will not say these things are small matters; then every defect in your life will assume a great magnitude.” Many things that now appear to us as fun and frolic will then seem to us mortal sins. Those lustful glances, those bad confessions in which, out of shame, you refrained from telling all your sins; those communions made in a state of doubtful conscience, will then rise before you and you will not be able to silence the interior voice by persuading yourself that those matters are of little moment. Oh! if we only worked half as hard to save our souls as others do to damn them, we would become saints. “They have fatigued themselves in doing evil.”

 

Look how you have abused the precious graces which God has given you! What will you think of those lost opportunities? You were brought up well, and put on the path to heaven. You often heard the word of God, and received the Sacraments. With all these advantages you should have become a saint. But remember, my dear young people, if you understand at the hour of your death the evil you have done, it is a great grace, for with the help of the Sacraments it will lead you to conversion. It often happens that even at the hour of death you do not recognize your wickedness; only when you die, and are judged, will you see, alas, too late! that you have led an evil life. Did not this happen to the rich man of whom Our Lord speaks? While he lived, as the Gospel describes, he had the enjoyment of wealth to its fullest extent; he dressed in the height of fashion, had a luxurious table and pleasures of every kind; but he was buried in hell, and when he opened his eyes he saw the poor Lazarus, whom he had despised, in Abraham’s bosom. What an awakening to reason, and to a recognition of his duties! You who are still in life can repair the evil you have done, and accomplish something to merit heaven; perhaps God may yet give you many days to labor for eternal life.

 

Our divine Redeemer saw the astonishment of Peter when that great mass of fish was caught. Peter knew it was a miracle, and a miracle wrought as a reward for his obedience, and, recognizing his unworthiness, he cried out, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, Lord.” He thought himself unworthy to be received into the company of Him whom he acknowledged to be his God. But Our Lord infused a new life into him, gave him a new calling, forgave all the past, and corrected it by His holy grace. “Fear not,” said Jesus, “from henceforth thou shalt catch men.” How can we, too, my young people, become fishers of men? We can do it by good example among our companions. In the past we may have ruined many a soul by the wickedness of our life; we may have drawn them gradually into a life of sin. What dreadful evil have we done! How hard it will be to make up for it, for, while we are converted, have we not perhaps this sorrow before our eyes that the evil we have started is still growing in those whom we have perverted? Let us, then, still try to do something practical to endeavor to bring back those we have led astray; let us pray for them, seek them, and speak to them. Let us follow Our Saviour as did St. Peter, who followed Jesus after he had been called and remained faithful in his vocation. “Come, follow Me.”

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