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Liturgy for Sundays and Main Feasts

The miraculous catch of fish
Fourth Sunday after Pentecost – The miraculous catch of fish

Reflections on the Liturgy of the Day – from L’Année Liturgique, by Dom Prosper Guéranger

Introit

The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the protector of my life, of whom shall I be afraid? My enemies that trouble me have themselves been weakened, and have fallen. If armies in camp should stand together against me, my heart shall not fear.

Notwithstanding her confidence in heaven’s help in times of trial, yet does the Church ever pray to the Most High that He would bless the world with peace. If, when the battle comes, the bride thrills at the thought that she will then have the chance of proving her devoted love, yet, as mother, she trembles when she thinks that many of her children, who would have been saved had the times been peaceful, will perish because of days of trouble overtaking them. Let us pray with her in the Collect.

Collect

Grant us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that, by Thy providence, the events of this world may be peacefully arranged for us, and that Thy Church may be gladdened by being permitted to serve Thee with peaceful devotedness.

Epistle

Lesson of the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Romans, Chapter VIII.

Brethren: I reckon that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come, that shall be revealed in us. For the expectation of the creature waits for the revelation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him that made it subject, in hope: because the creature also itself shall be delivered from the servitude of corruption, into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. For we know that every creature groans, and travails in pain even till now. And not only it, but ourselves also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption of the sons of God, the redemption of our body in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Reflexion on the Epistle

Hope enters in even within the veil and then she comes, telling the combatant about the disproportion, here mentioned by the apostle, between the fatigues of the march here below and the bliss which is to reward our fidelity in the happy land above. He has the promises of God and the marvellous dealings of the Paraclete in his regard, both in the past and now, all justifying his expectations of the future glory that shall then be revealed, be realized, in him. The very earth he dwells on, which now so often tyrannizes over him and deceives his senses, urges him to fix his heart on something far better than itself; it even seems to share in his hopes. St. Paul tells us so in our today’s Epistle: the wild upheavings, the restless changes of material creation, are so many voices clamouring for the destruction of sin, and for the final and total triumph over the corruption which followed sin. The present condition of this world, therefore, furnishes a special and most telling motive, inviting us to the holy virtue of hope. They alone can find anything strange in such teaching who have no idea of how man’s being raised up to the supernatural order was, from the beginning, a real ennobling of the world which was made for man’s service.

 

The Gradual offers up to God the prayers of Christians who, though they are far from being free from sin, and feel that they are unworthy of His assistance, yet, for His own glory’s sake, sue Him to have compassion on them. Poor though they be, they are His soldiers; their cause is His.

 

Gradual

Be merciful, O Lord, to our offences, that the Gentiles may never say: Where now is their God? Help us, O Lord, our Saviour, and, for the honour of Thy name, deliver us, O Lord. Alleluia, alleluia. O God, who sits on Your throne, and judges justly, be a refuge to the poor in distress. Alleluia.

Gospel

Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Saint Luke, Chapter V.

At that time, it came to pass, that when the multitude pressed upon Him to hear the word of God, He stood by the lake of Genesareth, and saw two ships standing by the lake; but the fishermen were gone out of them and were washing their nets. And going into one of the ships that was Simon’s, He desired him to draw back a little from the land. And sitting He taught the multitudes out of the ship. Now when He had ceased to speak, He said to Simon: Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon, answering, said to Him: Master, we have laboured all the night, and have taken nothing; but at Thy word, I will let down the net. And when they had done this, they enclosed a very great multitude of fishes, and their net was about to break. And they beckoned to their partners that were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came and filled both the ships, so that they were almost sinking. Which when Simon Peter saw, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying: Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was wholly astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken. And so were also James and John the sons of Zebedee, who were Simon’s partners. And Jesus said to Simon: Fear not; from henceforth you shall catch men. And having brought their ships to land, leaving all things they followed Him.

Reflexion on the Gospel

The Evangelists have left us the account of two miraculous fishings made by the apostles in presence of their divine Lord: one of these, related by St. Luke, the Church proposes for our consideration on this Sunday; the other, with its exquisite symbolism, was put before us by the beloved disciple on Easter Wednesday. The former of these, which took place while our Lord was still in the days of His mortal life, merely states that the net was cast into the water, and that it broke with the multitude of the draught; but no notice is taken by the Evangelist of either the number or the kind of fish. In the second, it is our risen Lord who tells the fishermen, His disciples, that the net must be let down on the right side of their boat; it catches, and without breaking, a hundred and fifty great fishes; these are brought to the shore where Jesus is waiting for them, that He may join them with the mysterious bread and fish that He Himself has already prepared for His labourers. The fathers are unanimous in the interpretation of these two fishings: they represent the Church; first of all, the Church as she now is, and next as she is to be in eternity. As she now is, the Church is the multitude, without distinction between good and bad.