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LEAVING EVERYTHING TO FOLLOW CHRIST
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Thursday, 22nd Week of the Year, September 05, 2013
Col. 1:9-14, Ps. 97, Luke 5:1-11


"And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him" (Luke 5:11).


This is the conclusion of the experience of Peter and his companions after seeing the great catch of fish they had just made at the word of Jesus to put out into the deep and lower their nets for a catch. And this is after they had toiled all night long and caught nothing. Upon seeing this great catch, Peter was astonished and "fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord'" (Luke 5:8). But Jesus encouraged him, saying, "Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men" (Luke 5:10). Finally, "when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him" (Luke 5:11).


Upon seeing such a great catch of fish, which filled two boats to the point of sinking, Peter felt unworthy to be an apostle and follower of Jesus, and told Jesus to depart from him, for he was a sinful man. But it is Jesus who justifies us and gives us forgiveness and dignity, not we ourselves. It is the merits of Jesus' death on the cross that make us righteous before God and worthy to be Jesus' followers and collaborators in the work of the kingdom. He makes us fishers of men, giving us an apostolate in his service and making us worthy of it.


The same thing happened to the tax collector, who "standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!'" (Luke 18:13). But it was he who was justified rather than the Pharisee who praised himself for his virtues and despised this tax collector. It is Jesus who justifies us without our works (Rom. 3:28). "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other" (Luke 18:14). His faith justified him, or to put it more accurately, the merits of Christ's death on the cross justified him ahead of time through his faith.


It is the same with us. If we feel unworthy and incapable of being Jesus' followers and collaborators, he forgives and justifies us. He took our part on the cross, suffering the just punishment for our sins instead of us and for us to justify all who put their faith in him. Then he calls us to be fishers of men, to share this salvation with others.


The response of Peter and his companions to Jesus' call should be our response too. "They left everything and followed him" (Luke 5:11). We too should leave everything and follow Christ with all our heart. We should live a simple life, not a worldly life. We should leave the lifestyle of the world, which is an endless quest after pleasure in the things of here below, and rather live for Christ with all the love of our heart, finding all our delight in him. In this way we lose our life in this world for the sake of Christ to find it truly in him (Mark 8:35), and we hate our life in this world to preserve it for eternal life (John 12:25).

 

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