Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies


5th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
February 10th, 2013
Year C

I have always been a person who likes games – particularly word games. There is one word, used often in our society, whose meaning is clouded by popular culture – freedom. Modern society tells us that freedom means doing whatever we feel like. Many critics of the Church think that her teachings, commandments, and moral discipline inhibit people from thinking on their own, that it stifles one’s freedom. Just opposite is the case. Those who follow the teachings of Jesus and the Church are freer than anyone else because we know where we are going and how to get there. Consider it in this way: Who is freer to play the piano, the kid who pounds out notes on a whim, or the one who has taken lessons for many years, learned the scales and the harmonies, learned how to read music, and trained his fingers to move over the keyboard effortlessly? Who is freer to go faster and farther, the traveler who has a map and a compass and a destination, or the aimless wanderer? Which is freer to arrive safely to harbor, the boat guided by a lighthouse, or the boat guided merely by the moods and wits of its captain? Who is freer to enjoy a healthy life, the person who knows the laws of nutrition and follows them, or the couch potato who just eats what he feels like whenever he feels like it? Freedom lies not in doing whatever one feels like. True freedom lies in knowing that the decisions we make in life will lead us along the right path – the path of goodness – the path that leads to God, who is Goodness itself.

In this passage of St. Luke’s Gospel, Jesus lays out three commands for His disciples: put out into the deep, lower your nets, and do not be afraid. As we approach the Season of Lent, we are given an opportunity to reflect on how these commands can bring us into a deeper relationship with Jesus and greater interior freedom.

The First Command – Put out into the Deep: Blessed John Paul II, in his message on the World Day of Prayer for Vocations in 2005, explains it in this way:

“The first condition for ‘putting out into the deep’ is to cultivate a deep spirit of prayer nourished by a daily listening to the Word of God. The authenticity of the Christian life is measured by the depths of one’s prayer … Whoever opens his heart to Christ will…understand the mystery of his own existence … he will bear the abundant fruit of grace.”

The Second Command – Lower your Nets: Very often we can get frustrated when we think that God does not listen to our prayers or when we feel that we have lost the sense of His presence in our lives. Sometimes we think that when we have labored without success, God is not present, He does not care, He is indifferent to our needs – it is in these times does He bid us to “lower our nets.” He demands that we keep trying, that we look more deeply into the teachings of our faith, that we continue labor for His sake and for the sake of our interior freedom. As such, our labor in the Christian life then becomes one of grace – not of acquired skill or diligence but of perseverance and devotion.

The Third Command – Do not Be Afraid: There are seven other instances in St. Luke’s Gospel where the term ‘afraid’ appears. Pope Benedict XVI made note of this fear in his inaugural homily as the Vicar of Christ:

“Are we not perhaps all afraid in some way? If we let Christ enter fully into our lives, if we open ourselves totally to him, are we not afraid that He might take something away from us? Are we not perhaps afraid to give up something significant, something unique, something that makes life so beautiful? Do we not then risk ending up diminished and deprived of our freedom? … No! If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation. And so, today, with great strength and great conviction, on the basis of long personal experience of life, I say to you, dear young people: Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life.”

These three commands found in today’s Gospel really have one thing in common – they are means to freedom. As a means to authentic freedom they require us to go the extra mile, to overcome any fear and to want to experience the transforming power of God’s grace. At the start of the Season of Lent, if we make these three commands a priority in our daily lives, we will surely not be disappointed. At Easter we will find ourselves totally transformed, totally renewed – we will be formed anew by the power of His grace. As we prayerfully consider the activities in which we will engage during Lent and the sacrifices we will make for Jesus, we ought to keep these commands in mind and ask ourselves: “In what ways do I need to be renewed by God?” What areas of my life need transformation?” And “How can I go the extra mile in order to get there?”

In this gospel, St. Peter allows Jesus to push him outside of his comfort zone. May we allow Him to do the same for us and so experience the transforming power of His grace.








Fr. Jon Reardon

Rev. Jonathan L. Reardon is a priest for the diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts.
He serves at Sacred Heart Parish in Pittsfield, MA.



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