TRINITY V – Exaudi, Domine
Introit: (Ps. 27) Hearken unto my voice, O Lord, when I cry unto thee: be thou my succour, O cast me not away, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation. Ps. The Lord is my light, and my salvation: whom then shall I fear?
Collect: Grant, O Lord, we beseech thee: that the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered by thy governance, that thy Church may joyfully serve thee in all godly quietness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
OT Lesson: Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that it shall no more be said, The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but, The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers. Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the Lord, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks. For mine eyes are upon all their ways: they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity hid from mine eyes. And first I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double; because they have defiled my land, they have filled mine inheritance with the carcases of their detestable and abominable things. O Lord, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say,
Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit. Shall a man make gods unto himself, and they are no gods? Therefore, behold, I will this once cause them to know, I will cause them to know mine hand and my might; and they shall know that my name is The Lord. (Jeremiah 16.14-21)
Gradual: (Ps. 84) Behold, O God, our defender: and look upon thy servants. V. O Lord God of hosts, hear the prayers of thy servants.
Epistle: Dearly beloved: Be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. (I Peter 3.8-15)
Alleluia. The king shall rejoice in thy strength, O Lord: exceeding glad shall he be of thy salvation. Alleluia.
The Holy Gospel: At that time: It came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon Jesus to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, and saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: and so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him. (St Luke 5.1-11)
“Shall a man make gods unto himself, and they are no gods? Therefore, behold, I will this once cause them to know, I will cause them to know mine hand and my might; and they shall know that my name is The Lord.” “But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.” Our Scripture lessons during Trinitytide are instructing us on what it means to live in the Kingdom of God—to follow Christ and be His disciples. Today’s lessons speak to us of the peace and mission of the Church.
In the Epistle, St Peter tells us that the peace of the Church is founded on the principle that we all “sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts.” Within that fellowship, where Christ is truly Lord, we are to be of one mind and one heart. While we may have many temperaments, passions, abilities, and vocations, we should be united in the knowledge and love of God, loving on another as brothers and sisters. Much of the peace of the Church depends upon our guarding our tongues. Nothing will escalate a situation any faster than responding to an unkind word with another unkind word. Gossip and uncharitable speech can tear a congregation apart and utterly destroy our Christian witness, which is why we need to follow the example of Jesus, dealing with each other with love, grace, mercy, and patience. Gossip, slander, and divisive talk serve only to exalt ourselves at the expense of others. But “he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.” Peter, quoting from Psalm 34, warns us of the destructive power of our words; and just as this is true in all families, it is true in the family of God. This is what we ask in the Collect when we pray that we might “joyfully serve thee in all godly quietness.” Peter was writing to a persecuted Church, but, despite their hardships, he exhorts them to unity—“having the same mind which was in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 2.5ff) As Christians we are to reflect the humble love that Christ has shown us. “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, blessing, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” If Jesus had repaid evil with evil, where would we be today?
Our Gospel gives a vivid illustration of the mission of the Church, drawing people to Christ in common obedience to His Word, as we sanctify Him as Lord in our hearts. The miraculous draught of fishes is not so much a miracle per se as a parable in action. Peter and his partners had been fishing all night and had caught nothing. Now all he really wants is to finish washing out his nets so that he can go home and get some sleep, but when Jesus asks to use his boat as a pulpit, Peter complies. During the sermon Peter no doubt heard what the Lord was saying to the crowds, but his attention was really on his boat, his nets, and his livelihood. How often are we like that? We read the Scriptures, but our thoughts are more focussed on all we have to get done today. We attend Mass, but our minds are on our plans for the afternoon or the stresses of life. Like Peter, we sit there pulling bits of seaweed from our nets as Our Lord speaks, and not really taking His words to heart.
Jesus finished teaching, but instead of asking Peter to take him back to shore, he says, “Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a catch.” Peter didn’t want to put out into the deep. His entire night of fishing had been a waste of time, but in resignation he says, “Rabbi, we have toiled all night and taken nothing! But at thy word I will let down the nets.” We may relate to his exasperation: “Lord, there’s no point, but just for You, …” and casts his net—not a real cast, just sort of half-heartedly throws it into the water. He wasn’t going to catch anything anyway, …
But then, immediately they enclosed such a great number of fish that the net began to break. Peter seems to be more concerned with temporal things—boat, nets, fishing, his livelihood—than with the things of God, so Jesus overwhelms him with his own livelihood—so many fish that his partners have to row out to help, and even then both boats were almost swamped by the weight of the catch. Finally Peter realizes this isn’t just another rabbi, for only God could work such a miracle, and he falls to the ground in awe before Jesus. The Lord gave Peter a dramatic demonstration that God would take care of the result if he acted in faith. Once Peter recognizes this truth, Jesus calls him to the work of the Kingdom: “Do not be afraid; from now on you will fish not for smelly, slimy fish, but for human souls.” And that is what Peter and his companions did. They trusted in Christ and, “When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.”
In our time there is a real need to reclaim the peace and mission of the Church—a peace and mission founded upon Christ as Lord, and obedience to His Word. We are not catching much these days, and, like Peter, we complain, “Master, we have toiled all night, and have taken nothing.” Disappointments come to us all, and are even more discouraging when they come after long hard work. We wash our empty nets in frustration and despair, and when Jesus says, “Launch out into the deep,” we reply, “Lord, it’s no use! I’m too tired, we’ve tried that already, and nothing works.” But we are called to faithfulness, to trust Christ and obey Him. God’s grace is beyond our imagination, bursting the nets of our expectations and even our comprehension. Peter may not have had great success in fishing that night, but later on, as a fisher of human souls, he was wildly successful. At Pentecost, for example, God gave him a miraculous catch of three thousand in one day!
This is the important lesson of today’s readings: We need to let go of our affections and attachments to the things of this world and fix them instead upon Jesus Christ. Then we can serve God with joy and in peace. In the Collect we prayed that “the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered by thy governance, that thy Church may joyfully serve thee in all godly quietness.” But in reality, how often is it we who are trying to govern and order things to achieve our own desired ends, or, when things are not going as we think they should, do we get anxious and panicky—as if God is not in control? God establishes His peace with us through Christ, and promises to care and provide for us, but yet we hold tight to our earthly cares, and look to the world to meet our needs. What does this communicate to the world about our faith? Has Christ been sanctified as Lord in our hearts, or not? Is God true to His word, or not? Honour Him, and He will take care of you. Fear Him, and you have nothing else to fear. Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and he will work everything else out for eternal blessing. As we allow our fears and anxieties to be absorbed into the peace of God, we can be about the Kingdom work that God has given us—we can truly be the peacemakers that God has called us to be, sharing his peace with the world, because we have experienced it ourselves. The first message of today’s readings is the peace that we have with God, through faith in Jesus Christ. The second is our commission to share that Good News, and to draw others into the “net” of God’s peace. Jesus doesn’t call all of us to leave our jobs and make the Gospel our full-time profession, but His call still goes out to each and all of us.
Today’s Gospel gives us a dramatic illustration of the truth that God does, in fact, govern the course of this world, and that when Jesus calls us to forsake all and to follow Him, we can trust Him, and joyfully serve Him in all godly quietness, not worrying about the outcome. “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts,” and He will give us a peace which the world cannot give.
In simple trust like theirs who heard
Beside the Syrian sea
The gracious calling of the Lord,
Let us, like them, without a word
Rise up and follow thee.
Drop thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease:
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of thy peace.
—John Greenleaf Whittier
Collect: O God, who art the author of peace and lover of concord, in knowledge of whom standeth our eternal life, whose service is perfect freedom: Defend us thy humble servants in all assaults of our enemies; that we, surely trusting in thy defence, may not fear the power of any adversaries; through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
And may the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord: and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be amongst you and remain with you always. Amen.