This sermon was delivered on July 10, 2011 at St. Francis de Sales Oratory, by Canon Raphael Ueda of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. It is a good “everyday” reminder for all of us struggling to get to Heaven.
This year we have a very late liturgical calendar. Two weeks ago I celebrated the feast of Corpus Christi in Chicago, and the next time we will have such a late feast of Corpus Christi will be 2038. It will be the 24th of June. So, now it is nice to take up again an ordinary Sunday which makes us understand to appreciate more our God, Emmanuel, which means “God with us.”
Today’s Mass begins with a cry of unshakable hope, “The Lord is my light and my salvation: whom shall I fear?” The Lord is with us in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar. And when Jesus comes to us in Holy Communion, He does not leave without impressing His grace on our soul. Thus the virtue of this sacrament, the warmth of divine charity, remains in our souls.
But, as soon as we leave the church, how often we forget that we have received the Lord and we submerge ourselves in other business and occupations and worldly affairs. Yes, we know our weakness. We forget so easily the grace received and benefit given, and we have even before our eyes the remembrance of our failures and infidelities. Then how great is our need to humbly repeat the beautiful prayer of today’s Mass: “O Lord, forgive us our sins. Help us O God, our savior, for the glory of Your Name”. Indeed, in spite of the continual help of divine grace, in spite of so many confessions and communions, we still need to acknowledge new failures very day, and we must begin anew daily.
The struggle of our life as a Catholic is arduous and sometimes very painful, but St. Paul reminds us that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come. This thought of the glory in heaven is one of consolation, hope, and confidence. However, it does not prevent us from longing for freedom and complete redemption already on this earth. Because the more we suffer because of our weakness the more we should turn to Jesus with full confidence in the power of His redemption.
Today’s Gospel is a practical demonstration of the words of Jesus: “Without Me, you can do nothing”. Simon and his companions had been fishing all night and had caught nothing. If we have had some little experience in the spiritual life, we will recognize that this is often our situation, too. How many efforts we have made to rid ourselves of this or that attachment, to forget injuries, to adapt ourselves to our neighbor’s way of doing things, to subject our will to another! And yet, after all these efforts, we find our hands empty like St. Peter’s nets. But let us not be discouraged.
If we can humbly acknowledge our failures instead of feeling defeated because of them, then failure itself will turn into victory. In spite of our good will to advance in virtue, our Lord will not permit us to have any success until He sees that we are totally convinced of our own weakness and inability. So, sometimes He lets us work all night without catching anything. But, once He sees our willingness to admit our weakness openly, He will come to our aid. We must then have great faith in Him– never allowing ourselves to give up through lack of success. Every day, relying on His word, we must begin anew. Then let us repeat with St. Peter in a similar cry of confidence, “Lord, at Thy word, I will let down the net”.
So, dear faithful, let us repeat it every day, every moment in our every daily life, without ever growing weary in our journey toward heaven. Amen.