THE NOW WORD ON MASS READINGS
for September 7th, 2017
Thursday of the Twenty-Second Week in Ordinary Time
Liturgical texts here
WHEN Jesus speaks to the crowds, he does so in the shallows of the lake. There, He speaks to them at their level, in parables, in simplicity. For He knows that many are only curious, seeking the sensational, following at a distance…. But when Jesus desires to call the Apostles to Himself, He asks them to put out “into the deep.”
Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch. (Today’s Gospel)
This instruction might have seemed somewhat bizarre to Simon Peter. For good fishing tends to be in shallower waters, or near drop-offs that lead to the depths. Moreover, the further out to sea they go, the more at risk they are of being caught in stormy waters. Yes, Jesus asks Simon to go against the grain of his flesh, against his instincts, against his fears… and to trust.
For a long time, many of us have been following Jesus at a distance. We go to Mass regularly, say our prayers, and try to be good people. But now, Jesus is calling apostles into the deep. He’s calling to Himself a people, if only a remnant, who are willing to go against the grain of their flesh, against their worldly instincts and, above all, their fears. To go against the overwhelming majority of the world today, and even portions of the Church which are descending more and more into a formalized apostasy.
But as He said to Simon Peter, He now says to you and I, calmly, and with a passionate glint in His eye:
Do not be afraid… Put out into deep water… (Today’s Gospel)
We are afraid, of course, because of what it might cost us. cf. Afraid of the Call But Jesus is only afraid of what we might lose: the opportunity to become our true selves—restored in His image in which we were created. You see, we think that as long as we have a beach to run to (false security); as long as we have a shore to stand on (control); as long as we can keep the breakers at a distance (false peace), that we are then truly free. But the fact is that, until we learn to depend entirely upon God, letting the winds of the Holy Spirit blow us “into the deep” where true sanctification happens… we will always remain shallow in truth and spirit. One foot in the world, and one foot out… lukewarm. There will always be a part of us that remains untransformed, the lingering old man, a dark shadow of our fallen natures.
This is why the Church constantly looks to Mary, that first Apostle, and first to sail totally and unreservedly into the depths of God’s heart.
Mary is totally dependent upon God and completely directed towards Him, and at the side of her Son [where she still suffered], she is the most perfect image of freedom and of the liberation of humanity and of the universe. It is to her as Mother and Model that the Church must look in order to understand in its completeness the meaning of her own mission. —POPE JOHN PAUL II,Redemptoris Mater, n. 37
What God wants to do in His Church at this time in history has never been done before. It is to bring about a “new and divine holiness” that is the crown and completion of all the other sanctities that He has ever poured out upon His Bride. It is a…
…“new and divine” holiness with which the Holy Spirit wishes to enrich Christians at the dawn of the third millennium, in order to make Christ the heart of the world. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, L’Osservatore Romano, English Edition, July 9th, 1997
In that regard, it is both historical and eschatological. And it depends upon the fiat of each and everyone of us. As Jesus said to Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta regarding the coming reign of His Divine Will in the Church:
The time in which these writings will be made known is relative to and dependent on the disposition of souls who wish to receive so great a good, as well as on the effort of those who must apply themselves in being its trumpet-bearers by offering up the sacrifice of heralding in the new era of peace… —Jesus to Luisa, The Gift of Living in the Divine Will in the Writings of Luisa Piccarreta, n. 1.11.6, Rev. Joseph Iannuzzi
And it is Marian in nature, as the Blessed Virgin Mary is the “prototype” and image of the Church’s restoration. Thus, her complete obedience and docility to the Father are precisely what it means to go “into the deep.” St. Louis de Montfort gives a powerful prophetic window into these times:
The Holy Spirit, finding his dear Spouse present again in souls, will come down into them with great power. He will fill them with his gifts, especially wisdom, by which they will produce wonders of grace… that age of Mary, when many souls, chosen by Mary and given her by the most High God, will hide themselves completely in the depths of her soul, becoming living copies of her, loving and glorifying Jesus… the greatest saints, those richest in grace and virtue will be the most assiduous in praying to the most Blessed Virgin, looking up to her as the perfect model to imitate and as a powerful helper to assist them… I said that this will happen especially towards the end of the world, and indeed soon, because Almighty God and his holy Mother are to raise up great saints who will surpass in holiness most other saints as much as the cedars of Lebanon tower above little shrubs… Illumined by her light, strengthened by her food, guided by her spirit, supported by her arm, sheltered under her protection, they will fight with one hand and build with the other. With one hand they will give battle, overthrowing and crushing heretics and their heresies… With the other hand they will build the temple of the true Solomon and the mystical city of God, namely, the Blessed Virgin, who is called by the Fathers of the Church the Temple of Solomon and the City of God… They will be ministers of the Lord who, like a flaming fire, will enkindle everywhere the fires of divine love. (n. 217, 46-48, 56) —St. Louis de Montfort, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, n.217, Montfort Publications
When we read this, perhaps our response is the same as that of Simon Peter: “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” That is a healthy response—self-knowledge is essential, the first truth that “sets us free.” Because only God can transform us from our sinful nature into holy men and women, that is, into our true selves.
And so Jesus repeats to you and I now: “Do not be afraid… give to me your fiat: your obedience, faithfulness, and docility to My Spirit, in every moment, from now on… and I will make you fishers of men.”
…we do not cease praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, so as to be fully pleasing, in every good work bearing fruit and growing in the knowledge of God, strengthened with every power, in accord with his glorious might, for all endurance and patience, with joy giving thanks to the Father, who has made you fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light. (Today’s first reading)
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