On 23 September 2012, the 18th Sunday after the Pentecost, the fragment from Luke, chapter 5, lines 1-11, presenting the wonderful fishing on the Galilee Sea was read in all the Orthodox churches. In the sermon delivered at the Chapel of the Patriarchal Residence with Saint Great Martyr George, Saint Daniel the Prophet, and Saint Pious Parascheva as saint patrons, His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church emphasised the teaching of today’s pericope, showing that the mystery of the Church was represented by the boat of the Gospel, as well as by the fact that the grace of God prevails over human wisdom and understanding.
Prediction the Mystery of the Church
Today’s Gospel predicts the Mystery of the Church, as well as the presence and work of the Saviour in the world.
“The boat of today’s Gospel is a prediction of the mystery of the Church understood as the boat of salvation on the stormy sea of life in history. Christ preaching in the boat predicts His presence and work through the word of His Gospel, which will be preached by those He called to service in the Church in the course of history till the end of time. The wonderful fishing shows us that the Church relies first of all on the grace of God and only afterwards on the human wisdom and understanding. Saint Peter the Apostle and the other disciples who were with him learned a lesson on the mystery of the Church through this wonderful fishing, namely that the people who come to the Church follow the mysterious call of Christ implemented through His grace in the mind and heart of the people called to salvation. Thus, not the human understanding helps the Church of Christ, but His grace, His presence which we must call and invoke, as well as the obedience to Christ, even if we do not understand His plan of salvation, even if this thing seems too hard for our mind and understanding, or perhaps impossible, but when we obey Christ and listen to His Gospel, when fulfilling His commands we feel His grace wonderfully working in our life, in the life of the Church in the world”, His Beatitude said.
The Gospel shows us that God does not leave us when we fail, but He waits to see if we come close to Him, if we ask for His help.
The Patriarch of Romania has also shown in his sermon that today’s Gospel shows us how much Christ’s presence and work matters in our life, without which we cannot do anything. If we rely only on our own forces, without taking into account His help, our attempts fail.
“The Gospel shows us that the presence and work of Christ are most important in the Church, just like the obedience to His Gospel, to His commandments and waiting for the fulfilment of His will in our life and in that of the Church. We learn from the Gospel that rather often we see in our life the failure of our attempts when we rely only on our own abilities. Although the intention was good, the work was not fulfilled, because something unexpected came up. We see the failure, the limits of our intelligence and physical force. Some people are disappointed and despair. The Gospel shows us that God does not leave us when we fail, but waits to see if we come close to Him, if we ask for His help or not. If we are humble enough to accept defeat or failure, it is from this state of lowliness that the work of the His grace begins. Very often people have not succeeded in doing what they wanted to, but because they were humble enough and have not lost their hope in the help of God, He gave them later on the power needed to do much greater and better things. The failure of the time was a preparation for a much greater success, for a more precious and greater work for the salvation of the soul. God helps us, but not always how we want and when we want to, but when He thinks this help is useful and how He understands it, with fatherly wisdom and love; this help is useful for our salvation and of those around us”, His Beatitude also said.
The Church is the space where the earth meets the heaven
The Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church has also shown that this evangelical pericope is one of hope beyond failure and of the change too, because it shows us how Peter was turned from a fisherman who fished fish into a fisherman who fished people and how he passed from the daily life into the heavenly unusual presence of God.
“Today’s Gospel is a Gospel of hope beyond failure, beyond the failure of the time. It is a Gospel of the call, of the change of our life when we do not expect it. Christ turned a fisherman who fished fish into a fisherman fishing people, took Peter from the boat to the Church, from the usual daily life to the heavenly unusual presence of God in the life of the people, through the Church, because the Church is the space where the earth meets the heaven, so that God may spiritually raise the humans to heaven”, the Primate of the Romanian Orthodox Church explained.