15 November 2016

Don't do the angels' work for them

St Albert the Great
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Notre Dame Seminary, NOLA

My family used to spend our Sundays hanging out at an old water-filled gravel quarry somewhere down near Chalmette. We would boat in, find a nice sandy beach, and settle in for the day grilling hamburgers, swimming, and fishing. Our last outing to what we called the Duck Roost ended rather dramatically. My 8 yo brother and my 11 yo old self were swimming at dusk. My dad – in a boat nearby – speared his spotlight across the pond. He called our names and yelled, “We've got company!” I turned around and saw three sets of red, flashing gator eyes creeping through the water towards me and my brother. Some forty years later, we refer to this as “The Day the Powell Boys Learned to Run on Water”! I think that this is one of reasons I became a Fisher of Men. . .rather than a fisher of fish. Fishing for fish in LA's bayous can be dangerous. But fishing for the souls of men and women in the world can be just as dangerous for the fisherman, if not more so. We throw the net of the Gospel into the world and pull in every sort of soul. At the end of the day, fishers of fish keep the good and toss the bad. But at the end of the age, it is the angels – not the fishermen – who parse the catch.

To the fishers of men listening to his parable, Jesus asks, “Do you understand all these things?” They reply, “Yes.” And with fear and trembling at getting it wrong, we too must reply, “Yes.” Why fear and trembling? Sirach says, “Whoever fears the Lord. . .will come to Wisdom. . .[Whoever fears the Lord] will lean upon [Wisdom] and not fall; he will trust in her and not be put to shame.” When the Church's fishers of men understand – truly grasp – the Good News, they take upon themselves a wisdom firmly rooted in humility – a habit of heart and mind that bows to the truth of Creation: we are all creatures wholly dependent on our Creator and His mercy. A wise fisherman of souls does not separate the good from the bad in his net. That's the work of angels at the end of the age. The work of the fisherman in this world is the heavy-lifting, time-consuming, always frustrating work of hauling in as many souls as the day will allow. What's so dangerous about this for the fisherman? The temptation to do the work of angels, forgetting humility and wisdom. The temptation to court foolishness and shame. None of us is an angel. So, do your work in this world with joy and gratitude, announcing the Good News, pulling in the net. . .and let the Lord and his angels do the wiser work of parsing the catch.

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1 comment:

  1. Anonymous2:28 PM

    wow! whay a perfect homily..it embraces all, life as well as Scripture