April 1, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Friday Within the Octave of Easter
Reading (Acts 4:1-12) Gospel (St. John 21:1-14)
Let us remain united in fervent prayer for our Holy Father
whose health is in very serious condition at this time. God bless you.
Our Lord in the Gospel reading today, as He appears to His disciples on the shore of the Sea of Tiberius, which is the Sea of Galilee, calls to His disciples and asks if they have caught anything. When they answer that they have not, He tells them, Cast your net off the right side of the boat and you will find something. Notice how Our Lord continually will ask us to keep trying, even though everything we have done seems to have been completely useless, even a failure. They have spent the entire night, by this point they are completely exhausted, and the Lord says, “Try it again.” He does not treat us any differently. We like to think if we are going to do God’s work that everything should work exactly the way we think it should on the first try and it should be perfect. It does not happen that way, and we all know that. The Lord is going to check to see about our faith, about our perseverance, about our patience, about our charity, and on and on the list of virtues could go.
When the apostles come to shore, they already find that there is a fire with some fish and bread on it. Then the Lord says, Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught. You see again how the Lord does things. He will provide, but then He gives us the opportunity to have a share in what is being provided. Rather than just sitting back and saying, “Well, You are God; You can do this – do it!” He says, “No, I will provide for you, but I want you – because you are human, because you are part of My Mystical Body, because you have this dignity – to take part in this work.” And so the apostles bring some of the fish that they caught and they add it to the fish that are on the fire already. So what God will do with us is ask us to do our part, and He will take care of everything else. But we have our part to do.
Now we need to be careful that we do not give up. There are times when something that we are trying to do is not what the Lord wants, and He will let us know pretty clearly that that is not His Will. He will slam the door in our face and He will let us know that this is not what we are supposed to do. We need to be careful because when we are doing God’s work, very often He will allow obstacles to be placed before us, hurdles that have to be overcome. It is very different from having the door slammed. In one, He is telling us, “This is not what I want you to do.” In the second, He is telling us, “This is what I want, but I want you to work at it, overcome the obstacles, and don’t give up.” So we need to be very careful that we are always seeking His Will in prayer. If He tells us, “Try it one more time,” then we try it one more time. If He tells us, “This is not what I want you to do,” then we need to stop.
Regardless of what He wants us to do, if we are seeking to do His Will, we can be guaranteed that He will give us the grace to do what we have to do and that He will provide for everything that is lacking in what we are doing so that the fullness of the will of God is going to be complete. Our part, by His help – and notice that He was the one who told them, Cast one more time on the right side of the boat and you’ll catch something – is to do it His way in His time, to persevere in the work, and to trust that He is going to take care of the rest.
Now we look at that and we say, “This does not sound like an easy thing.” He never said it would be. But then we have to ask the same question as Peter did one day. He said, To whom else shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. There is not any place else. We, as Americans, like to have things made easy. We think it should be quick, it should be immediate, and it should be simple. Just push a button or take a pill and that takes care of everything. That is not the way God works. We all know that the way God works is that if our plan is that this should be done in exactly this amount of time, months later maybe we will actually get it finished. It does not happen the way that we think it ought.
So again, He is going to test our virtue. He is going to try us. But, as Peter told the high priests today in the first reading today, There is no other name given to mankind by which we will be saved. And so when we look at what the result of this is all about and why it is that we are doing it in the first place, it is for the glory of God. That is what we have to be about – everything for the greater glory of God. If it is for the greater glory of God and the good of others, then if we do it His way it will give Him the greatest glory, it will help us to grow in holiness, and God will be glorified. That is what our lives are supposed to be about: to serve God, to serve those around us, to grow in holiness. All of the means are there if we seek the Will of God in prayer and we trust that He will take care of everything else. Then we will be lacking in nothing because what we are not able to do He will complete. And if we are seeking to do His Will, even if it does not go the way that we think it should, God will be glorified because His Will is being done and we are growing in holiness.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.