Growing up all of us have known people who have had beautiful gardens, we like to lay back and look at the fruit of our labor; we love to see the formation of our children, we like to see ourselves grow in our work situations, and we especially like to see and watch ourselves grow spiritually. Today in the Gospel Saint Luke is telling us how to obtain growth in our spiritual lives; first it is important to enlighten and to feed ourselves with the word of God, by reading of the scriptures daily, and by fasting, and through the practice of prayer.
As we reflect upon the gospels which have been read in the church over the past several weeks that have lead us to Gospel of Luke which has been presented to us today; we begin to understand the true miracle that had taken place at Lake Gennesaret. Previously, Luke writes about Jesus entering the Temple as He opened up the Hebrew Scrolls and says to the bystanders " today the scriptures have been fulfilled " He is simply telling the people that He is the Son of God. Then in another Gospel we see the Lord healing the leper; thus showing His Divinity through His miracle.
Now, by this time, word of His miracles is spreading throughout all of Jerusalem and the neighboring borders; His popularity grew rapidly, and while He was traveling about the crowds would gather around Him to hear the word of God.
By the time He reached the shore of the Lake of Gennesaret it was impossible for Jesus to reach out to all the people who were pressing about Him. Now, at this point we read in the Scripture that Jesus saw several fishermen who were washing their nets, and one of the men went by the name of Simon Peter, and the Lord asked Simon if He could get into His boat, meanwhile Simon complained that His crew had been fishing all night, but had caught nothing. Jesus told Simon to push out from the shore and then He sat down, used the boat like a pulpit and began to preach to the people the Word of God, all could hear Him and were elated upon hearing His message. After preaching, Jesus exhorted Simon to put the boat out into the deep water and to lower His net; and at the Lords request Simon grudgingly did as He was told. To Simon Peters amazement, the nets of both boats were beginning to break because of the abundant harvest of fish, their vessels began to sink.
At this point in the Gospel we see how Simon was beginning to be transformed because of His association with Jesus. Simons words as He fell onto His knees before Christ were words of change “depart from me for I am a sinful man”. As Jesus saw the growth in this man, by the beautiful words that He used, the Lord knew that Simon would soon be a fisher of men.
The gospel is telling us today to transform our lives, and to change, and to grow. Jesus gives us a key on how to do this:
One of the most important ingredients is to have faith; for faith is to believe in that which we cannot see, and Jesus taught those who followed Him that if the faith of ours was the size of a mustard seed we could “say to the mountain to move from here to there and it would happen”.
In order to increase our faith and to make Jesus present in our lives, we have to make an effort, as Peter did when He had faith in Jesus and turned His boat around and went out into the depths of the sea. Today we must focus our efforts on turning our small boats into the direction of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
Lastly, we need to attempt to understand that hopeless situations can turn around and miracles will happen if Jesus is part of the equation. Jesus says it very clearly “I am the way, the truth, and the life” who always brings light into the world.
In conclusion, I would like to tell you about a young man who walked into a store and saw a fancy little box sitting on the shelf; he opened the box and under the light he uncovered what was inside, and to His surprise he saw a beautiful gleaming pearl; he purchased it, brought it home, opened the box, uncovered it, and the pearl was as dull as it could be. Upon seeing this he thought that the merchant had cheated him and he took the pearl back to the store. He approached the clerk and told him that when he bought the pearl that it glistened. The salesman asked him if he exposed the pearl to light when he had taken it out of the box at home, and the man said “NO” The merchant said, you see that in order for the pearl to sparkle it must be seen in the light; and then it will gleam, glisten, and shine.
You see, Jesus is the light, and if we live in this light, we will gleam, shine, and sparkle, and our spiritual growth will be like that beautiful garden that we planted, and now we sit back and watch it grow as we reap the fruit of our efforts.
Fr. Paul Bigelow