FEBRUARY 10, 2013 - 5TH SUNDAY

1CORINTHIANS 15:1-11; LUKE 5:1-11

I HANDED ON TO YOU AS OF THE FIRST IMPORTANCE WHAT I ALSO RECEIVED: CHRIST DIED FOF OUR SINS. Elsewhere, Saint Paul completed this statement of fundamental belief with its essential complementary truth when he added that the Lord "was buried and then was risen on the third day according to the Scriptures." This teaching was so fundamental that he repeats it later on in writing to the Romans where he affirmed boldly in almost the same terms that the Lord Jesus "was give over for our sins and was raised for our justification." (4:25) In today's text, Paul emphasizes the fact that this conviction of faith is the heart of the Gospel he preaches and that he was sent with this message through the grace of God. In fact, its fruitfulness is due to the grace of God operating through him.

These words represent a brief summary of the heart of our Christian faith. The other truths constituting the deposit of faith flow from the implications of these few words that Paul himself was to explain as he expanded on their implications in his various writings to the Churches. He was explicitly conscious of the fact that the content of our faith is a deposit that we receive from God himself. Accordingly he employs the term paratheke meaning "what is entrusted, a deposit" with the verb phulassein, to preserve watchfully. In fact, the whole of the Gospel detailing the origin, life, and teaching of Jesus is a message entrusted to the Church to be faithfully preserved and explained to the people belonging to God in living faith. This preservation of the content of faith in its integrity is a major concern of the apostle in his Epistles to Timothy and Titus as he realizes that his death is drawing near. Already in his lifetime, Paul had experienced the assaults on faith not only from without but within the Church and warns his young disciples to guard against such threats to the deposit entrusted to the Church living by faith.

Such concerns remain very much alive in our Catholic Church today and are especially worrisome in our own country as well in Europe, China and elsewhere. The present Pope has recently warned our American bishops that they must guard against threats to the practice of our faith arising from current legislation that favor practices that are opposed to Christian morality and to dogma as well. The nature of marriage, the inviolable sacredness of life from the beginning of its conception are under attack, and are supported not only atheists and others hostile to Catholic belief, but also by many claiming to be Catholic, some of whom are prominent in our present government.

In the Gospel today, Jesus gives assurance to Peter as he enters upon his ministry by working an impressive miracle calculated to strike the imagination of an experienced fisherman. He hints that just as he has enabled Peter to make a huge catch of fish by obeying the Lord's word to go into the deep and cast his nets there, so also will he successfully draw in believers if he trusts himself to Christ's word. Faith strong enough to give confidence in God and his anointed today calls us too, as it did Peter, and as it has called so many others in the past generations, into the deep waters that can suddenly grow threateningly dangerous. Fidelity in these times already requires a willingness to face a world of troubled waters, as Peter was to experience at another occasion on this same lake of Genesareth. Just as Jesus gave assurance to Peter that in obeying his word he would not only be safe but successful beyond all expectations, so also here at this Eucharist he gives to each of us who approach t his altar with trusting faith assurance that he will always be with us, and preserve us in his love by the power of God our ever watchful Father.


Abbot John Eudes Bamberger