Eucharist Miracle Eucharist Miracles

Homily of H.E. Mons. Claudio Gatti of February 4, 2007

1st reading: Is 6:1-8; Psalm: 137; 2nd reading: 1 Cor 15:1-11; Gospel: Lk 5:1-11.

We can summarize today's celebration with an expression: "Sunday call". Call or vocation are two terms having the same meaning. Every call or vocation implies two participants, the one who calls and the one who is called. In the sacred scripture the caller is always God. Only the Lord knows people in the depths of their hearts and knows very well how to choose the one to entrust His missions with. By vocation or call we do not mean only the priestly one. A call also means the circumstance occurring when the Lord wants to entrust any task or mission to a person chosen by Him.

Today's readings describe three calls that have taken place at different times and distant from each other: the first is that of Isaiah, which took place a good seven and a half centuries before those of Simon Peter and Paul. These three calls, though occurring at different times, have some elements in common. Let's start with that of Isaiah.

"In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”

Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said: “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying: “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said: “Here am I. Send me!" (Is 6:1-8)

Isaiah has an inner vision, he sees God before him on a throne. There are seraphim praising His name and sing: Holy, Holy, Holy; this is the attribute identifying divinity, only God is the Saint par excellence, only God is the One who has, within himself, an infinite sanctity in which He can call men to participate. We have a limited and participated holiness, but God has an infinite and generating holiness. In the face of this vision of God, the prophet feels a sinner and feels his own transience. Here it is, before the infinite holiness of God, he sees, within himself, a series of shortcomings, weaknesses and impurities. So the expression: "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips", indicating precisely that he feels a sinner.

Let us now meditate the Gospel.

"One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon: “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered: “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets. When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said: “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.

Then Jesus said to Simon: “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him." (Lk 5:1-11)

Simon Peter undergoes an inner transformation due to an extraordinary event. He was an expert fisherman and knew very well that casting the net in the same area where he had not fished all night would have been a failure and yet, faced with Christ who ordered him to cast the net, obeyed: "But because you say so, I will let down the nets" or "I let myself go to you Lord, I do not rely on my experience". This trust in the Lord rewards Peter to such an extent that they catch so much fish that his own boat cannot contain all the fish and must be helped by a second one. They fill both boats almost to sink.

Thus, in Simon Peter, a transformation takes place. The Gospel, and in general the Word of God, must always be read with extreme attention. Please reflect on the two terms with which Peter refers to Christ, first he says: "Master", thereafter he says: "Lord". In the scripture, the term Lord is attributed exclusively to God. So, in Simon Peter, there is a growth of faith, first he calls Jesus "Master", then "Lord". He recognized Christ as the Son of God. After this act of faith, Simon Peter is aware of his reality as a sinner before God, the Messiah and shouted: "Lord, turn away from me, because I am a sinner". Also in this second example of an authentic call from God, the called feels unworthy, manifesting his own condition as a sinner. The words of Christ are encouraging, Jesus said to Simon: “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” Jesus even makes a promise that implicitly contains already the direct call from Christ to Peter.

Now let's talk about Paul. As I have already explained to you in the Bible classes, being aware of having been called directly and personally by Christ, he always defended his status of apostle. Paul never renounced or hid, for reasons of false humility, his title of apostle, but he claimed it on several occasions. And where is his humility? We have read it in today's second reading:

"For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them - yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed" (1 Cor 15:9-11)

Here they are, these three calls have in common an important characteristic: the called party feels small, weak and sinful. How different is the attitude of so many ecclesiastic sinners who flaunt their titles and their priestly or episcopal status. They build the thrones on which to sit, demand services and respects from their faithful. This is not how the called person must live his vocation. In fact, whoever receives a task or mission must be strictly and intimately linked to the One calling him. This union must be certified in the grace, as Paul says: "But by the grace of God I am what I am" and there is a great statement that should be made by each priest: "And his grace to me was not without effect". This is already a shining example, but Paul goes further on and says: "Yet, I have worked harder than all the other apostles". See Paul’s candor and sincerity! The false humble, however, would have said that the others are better, that have worked and struggled more, but meanwhile, in their hearts, they hope to hear words of praise and approval. "I worked harder than all of them", Paul teaches us that humility is, first of all, truth. Immediately afterwards there is Paul’s boost taking us to a high level again: "I worked harder than all of them - yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me". So, you see, "I" says Paul "I was the instrument of this grace". Paul feels to be a simple instrument, like the donkey Christ chose when He entered Jerusalem. I think it would be wonderful if each of us would feel like a donkey before our Lord. You will remember that I exalted that donkey. I was envious and jealous of that donkey, for it was the creature closest to Christ, carrying the weight of Christ, but it also felt the presence of the Messiah, His caress more than everybody else. God, therefore, wants every priest or bishop to truly feel like the Lord's donkey and I say it with joy and exaltation. "The grace of God that is within me", that is, the grace of God that is in me has labored. It is God who works and operates and it is God manifesting himself.

God has chosen me and has chosen you too. You are called to bear witness, to make the world understand that God is love. You are called to express and manifest the Gospel that has been taught to you. I, Bishop Claudio Gatti, can say to you, together with Paul, to live the Gospel exactly in the way and in the form that I have taught you and not in other ways because otherwise you could depart from Christ. What is the core of the teaching, of the proclamation of the Gospel that I have made to you? I can repeat, again with Paul, that Christ died for our sins and has risen because He is God. Hence his redemption has an immense, enormous and infinite value. I said: Christ is dead and Christ is risen, but this is not only a historical event twenty centuries far from us, it is a reality that is always present and actual within the Church, through the celebration of Holy Mass. In the Holy Mass Christ dies and rises again, and each one of you who has received the word meets with the One who uttered this word.

Once more you have the joy to feel, understand and deepen the centrality of the Eucharistic mystery, everything starts from the Eucharist, everything must return there.

In the Eucharist we meet God and we must feel sinners, strong must be within us the yearning to change through the grace of God. Each of us must say: "I am what I am by God's grace, I am son of God and son of Maria; I am what I am because, in me, the Eucharistic mystery is made present every time I participate in the celebration of the Holy Mass."

I conclude these reflections with the invitation to live in humility. Let’s deepen and cultivate this virtue that can raise us to very high levels and can put us in touch with God and in deep intimacy with Him. "I am a sinner but son of yours, I am far from You because of my fault, but close to You by your grace." This is the prayer you should feel coming and manifesting in your heart. Praised be Jesus Christ.