Fr Brendan Nolan
Today the Liturgy of the Word is addressed to the reality of mission. The mission for the characters on the pages of Sacred Scripture is put before us and through our awareness of them, and reflection upon them we will find our own unique calling. From his vision of the inner court of heaven, Isaiah hears his call from God. He feels unworthy and describes his state as wretched. The presence of God, through the ministry of the Seraphs, fills in this chasm of his unworthiness, so much so, that Isaiah promptly responds. “Here I am, send me.”
Following the miraculous catch of fish, Peter too is acutely aware of his unworthiness and so he declares “Leave me Lord, I am a sinful man”. Because he is a fisherman, Peter knows that night is the time for abundant catches, such an abundant catch is not associated with morning fishing. Now on the instruction of Jesus to put out into deep water and pay out their nets, the catch is so immense that their nets begin to tear. The evangelist clearly tells us that as well as calling Jesus “Lord”, Peter falls to his knees. The declaration of Jesus, “from now on it is people you will catch” is more purifying for Peter than the hot coal which touched the tongue of Isaiah. This is the mission for Peter and his companions; “Catching People”. All of us from our different vantage points within the church, priests, religious, laity are also called to be fishers of people. The phrase might leave us uneasy; we can only grasp it when we consider for whom we will catch people, onto to whom we will catch them and into whom we will catch them. The destiny of the catch of our mission is Christ, Son of The Living God, who according to St. Paul in today’s second reading, died for our sins, was buried and rose in accordance with the scriptures. This Christ is The Light of The World, The Way and The Truth, The deep well of Living water, The True Vine and the Gate of The Sheepfold. It is our mission to put out into the deep and let down the nets. We do this by our conviction that Christ’s Light is Eternal Love and Dignity and that as such it stands in eloquent divergence from the depths of darkness and meaninglessness. Sharing Christ in this way is a joy rather than a chore. By it we can help each other mend our brokenness we can grant vision to those who have lost the way. As we move towards the Sacraments of Confirmation and First Holy Communion, we find our teachers actively involved in sharing the most joyful mystery. They pray with the children, share stories of the Saints lives with them, produce living religious art with them. All of us in the parishes and in the families are called to enter into this moment of mission. We do it by our prayer and prayerfulness through which we truly recognise Christ, in front of whom Peter fell to his knees. We do it by a positive love for life, creation, beauty and living, so intense that in Christ, we can perceive death as the gateway into eternal love. In this grace we bring ourselves and others in unbroken nets from the depths of nothingness to the eternal shore where we hear the aspiration of today’s psalm “Your love O Lord, is eternal, discard not the work of your hands” and hopefully to the conviction of Isaiah, “Here I am, send me”.