Preacher’s Sketchbook: Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

February 6, 2013

Each week, a Dominican member of the Province of St. Joseph’s Preaching Advisory Board prepares this Preacher’s Sketchbook in anticipation of the upcoming Sunday Mass. The idea of the Preacher’s Sketchbook is to take quotations from the authority of the Church–the Pope, the Fathers of the Church, documents of the Councils, the saints–that can help spark ideas for the Sunday homily. Just as an artist’s sketchbook preserves ideas for later elaboration, so we hope the Preacher’s Sketchbook will provide some ideas for homiletical elaboration.


Saint Ambrose (Exposition of the Holy Gospel According to Saint Luke)

“Launch out into the deep.” For what is so deep as to see the heights of riches [cf. Rom 11:33], to know the Son of God [cf. 1 Cor 2:2], and to receive the proclamation of the Divine Incarnation? Although the human mind cannot comprehend this by inquiry with full reason, yet the fullness of faith embraces it. For although I am not permitted to know how he was born, yet I am not permitted to be ignorant of his birth. I am ignorant of the succession of his generation [Is 53:8; Acts 8:33], but I recognize its authority. We were not present when the Son of God was born of his Father, but we were there when he was said by the Father to be the Son of God [cf. Luke 3:22]. If we do not believe God, whom do we believe? For all that we believe, we believe through seeing or hearing. Seeing is often deceived, but hearing is in faith.

Saint Ambrose (Exposition of the Holy Gospel According to Saint Luke)

“Depart from me, O Lord, for I am a sinful man.” Do you also say, “Depart from me, O Lord; for I am a sinner” so that the Lord may answer you, “Fear not.” Fear not to confess your sin to your gracious Lord; fear not also to bring what are yours to the Lord, because he conferred on us what are his. He cannot envy, he cannot snatch away, he cannot steal. See how good is the Lord, who has bestowed so much on men, that they have the power to restore to life.

Catechism of the Catholic Church (208)

Faced with God’s fascinating and mysterious presence, man discovers his own insignificance. Before the burning bush, Moses takes off his sandals and veils his face in the presence of God’s holiness [cf Ex 3:5-6]. Before the glory of the thrice-holy God, Isaiah cries out: “Woe is me! I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips” [Is 6:5]. Before the divine signs wrought by Jesus, Peter exclaims: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” [Lk 5:8]. But because God is holy, he can forgive the man who realizes that he is a sinner before him: “I will not execute my fierce anger. . . for I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst” [Hos 11:9]. The apostle John says likewise: “We shall. . . reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything” [1 Jn 3:19-20].

Blessed Pope John Paul II (17 April 2005)

Duc in altum!” The command of Christ is particularly relevant in our time, when there is a widespread mentality which, in the face of difficulties, favors personal non-commitment. 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 depth of one’s prayer, an art that must be humbly learnt “from the lips of the Divine Master”, almost imploring “like the first disciples: ‘Lord, teach us to pray!’ (Lk 11:1). In prayer, a conversation with Christ develops and it makes us his intimate friends: ‘Abide in me and I in you’ (Jn 15:4).” … To you, young people, I repeat the word of Jesus: “Duc in altum!”. In proposing His exhortation once more to you, I think at the same time of the words which Mary, his Mother, addressed to the servants at Cana in Galilee: “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5). Dear young people, Christ is asking you to “put out into the deep” and the Virgin Mary is encouraging you not to hesitate in following Him.

Pope Benedict XVI (Homily)

Today too the Church and the successors of the Apostles are told to put out into the deep sea of history and to let down the nets, so as to win men and women over to the Gospel – to God, to Christ, to true life. The Fathers made a very significant commentary on this singular task. This is what they say: for a fish, created for water, it is fatal to be taken out of the sea, to be removed from its vital element to serve as human food. But in the mission of a fisher of men, the reverse is true. We are living in alienation, in the salt waters of suffering and death; in a sea of darkness without light. The net of the Gospel pulls us out of the waters of death and brings us into the splendour of God’s light, into true life. It is really true: as we follow Christ in this mission to be fishers of men, we must bring men and women out of the sea that is salted with so many forms of alienation and onto the land of life, into the light of God. It is really so: the purpose of our lives is to reveal God to men. And only where God is seen does life truly begin. Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is. We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary. There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him. The task of the shepherd, the task of the fisher of men, can often seem wearisome. But it is beautiful and wonderful, because it is truly a service to joy, to God’s joy which longs to break into the world.



Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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