Summary: We understand that we are sinful and weak, but like the martyrs, we pray that our faith may not fail so we may witness to Christ in His Church.

Thursday of the 22nd Week in Course

Light of Faith

There are little coves along the Sea of Galilee that are fronted by natural amphitheaters. At one of these, Jesus, pressed by the crowds, got into Peter’s boat and put out a couple of meters so more could hear him. He spoke the Word of God–after all, He was the Word of God–and the people responded in faith to His teaching.

It was probably about ten in the morning. In the summer the area around the lake gets pretty hot and humid, and catching fish becomes almost impossible, but Jesus told Peter to put out into the deeper part of the lake for a catch. The carpenter was telling the fisherman how to fish. But because he heard the Word of God, Peter did put out into the lake, and immediately caught so many fish that they filled two boats to the gunwales. And these boats were no rowboats–they were ten or fifteen meters long . Peter was astonished, and realized that he was in the presence of divine power–hence his exclamation of his own unworthiness because of sin. We may from time to time share that feeling. I do at the altar. How could the Lord choose a weak and sinful man like me to be His minister? Only because He is, as always, full of mercy and forgiveness, and if He could raise up Simon to be a saint, He can surely do the same for us, if only we accept faith.

The Popes remind us that “Christ, on the eve of his passion, assured Peter: I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail (Lk 22:32). He then told him to strengthen his brothers and sisters in that same faith.” (Par 5) So have the Popes written this beautiful encyclical–praying for us that in the midst of a depraved and faithless world, we might be strengthened in the faith of Jesus Christ in the midst of the Church.

They share with us a wonderful story: The conviction born of a faith which brings grandeur and fulfilment to life, a faith centred on Christ and on the power of his grace, inspired the mission of the first Christians. In the acts of the martyrs, we read the following dialogue between the Roman prefect Rusticus and a Christian named Hierax: “‘Where are your parents?’, the judge asked the martyr. He replied: ‘Our true father is Christ, and our mother is faith in him’”.5 For those early Christians, faith, as an encounter with the living God revealed in Christ, was indeed a “mother”, for it had brought them to the light and given birth within them to divine life, a new experience and a luminous vision of existence for which they were prepared to bear public witness to the end. The martyrs faced death, but they could no more turn their back on their faith than they could disown their mothers. God grant us the same faith and willingness to witness to Christ in His Church.

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