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'from now on it is men you will catch'

Saturday, March 17, 2007
Feast of St Patrick

Readings: 1 Peter 4:7-11, Ps 95:1-3, 7-8, 10; R) v.3, Luke 5:1-11

There are few things more painful than failure; the objective knowledge that we have fallen short of what we set for ourselves. That knowledge is what faces Simon Peter and the other fisherman in today’s gospel. They have worked hard through the night and their labours have yielded nothing.

And yet the passage is a story of the success that will come to the apostles if they persevere. The key to resolving this seeming paradox is the change of perspective that is brought about in the fisherman. God’s work in the world is not wrought by us or controlled by our initiative: it is collaborative and dependent upon the humility with which we can listen to the Lord. That simplicity of spirit, which prayer breeds in us, asks us to forget the collapse of our own plans. Rather, what is highlighted is the vital contribution that we can each make to the church’s mission by being constant in prayer and generous in response to the invitation of God.

St Patrick, the great 5th century missionary to Ireland, had a profound understanding of the dependence of the true preacher upon God’s grace. As St Patrick said in his Confession, ‘I am very much in debt to God, who gave me so much grace that through me many people were born again in God’. The Lord asks us not to be afraid, but rather to cast out our nets, confident in the good that He wants to work in us and through us.


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