|Fourth Sunday after Pentecost|
he Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans, viii. 18-23. Brethren: I reckon that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come, that shall be revealed in us. For the expectation of the creature waiteth for the revelation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him that made it subject, in hope: because the creature also itself shall be delivered from the servitude of corruption, into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. For we know that every creature groaneth, and travaileth in pain even till now. And not only it, but ourselves also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit: even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption of the sons of God, the redemption of our body: in Christ Jesus our Lord.
There is no better consolation under crosses and afflictions than the thought that all the troubles of this world are not to be compared with the glory to come, and "that which is at present momentary and light of our tribulation worketh for us above measure exceedingly an eternal weight of glory" (II. Cor. iv. 17). And, therefore, St. Bede says: "If we had to bear for awhile the pains of hell, it would not appear so hard, if thereby we might merit to see Christ in His glory, and to be added to His saints."
he Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ, According to St. Luke, v. 1-11. At that time, when the multitudes pressed upon Jesus to hear the word of God, He stood by the lake of Genesareth. And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And going into one of the ships that was Simon's, He desired him to draw back a little from the land. And sitting, He taught the multitudes out of the ship. Now when He had ceased to speak, He said to Simon: Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said to Him: Master, we have labored all the night, and have taken nothing: but at Thy word I will let down the net. And when they had done this, they enclosed a very great multitude of fishes, and their net broke. And they beckoned to their partners that were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they were almost sinking: which when Simon Peter saw, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying: Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was wholly astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken. And so were also James and John the sons of Zebedee, who were Simon's partners. And Jesus saith to Simon: Fear not: from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And having brought their ships to land, leaving all things, they followed Him.
What may we learn from the multitudes who pressed on Jesus to hear the word of God?
That we, also, should hear the word of God with great zeal, since it conveys to men the life of the soul and eternal happiness.
Why did Our Saviour teach the multitude out of the ship of St. Peter?
That, as the ship is the figure of the Church, so we can receive the true doctrine from that Church only of which Peter was the head (John xxi. 15-17). Amid all storms Jesus has preserved, and will preserve, this ship of His Church, till the end of time (Matt. xvi. 18). Peter yet stands at the helm, in the unbroken line of his successors; Jesus yet teaches from the ship the same doctrines as before, by the mouth of bishops and priests, the assistants of St. Peter's successors, and whoever hears them hears Him. Hear them, therefore, with willingness and docility.
What was signified by the great draught of fishes which the apostles took, by the command of Jesus, after they had labored the whole night in vain?
To the disciples it was a type of their vocation, a pledge of their successful labors, and at the same time a lesson how to labor so as to gain fruits. The exceeding and wonderful abundance of the draught of fishes was to assure them that their zealous labors to save souls should, in like manner, be crowned with rich success. That, after laboring all the night in vain, they should at once take so many fish, when they let down their nets at the word of Jesus, was to be to them a lesson never to be forgotten, that they could work with blessing and success only by relying, not on their own skill and painstaking, but only on the might and blessing of the Lord.
What other lessons are to be drawn from this gospel?
We learn that nothing has any value before God which is done from mere natural inclination and human respect, that our labors are without merit if not undertaken in the name of God, but that He does not permit the least work to be in vain when undertaken without hesitation, relying on His assistance and for His sake. That the disciples obeyed so quickly, teaches us to obey God at once, to spare no sacrifice, to leave all quickly, and not to put off till tomorrow what is to be done today. Finally, we may learn not to be proud of the success of our labor, but, like Peter, to give glory to God, Who does such great things, by cheerfully leaving all earthly things to follow Him.