The unexpected will of God.

Homily 516 – 15 APE
Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, Ames, Iowa
September 25, 2022
Epistle:  (176) 2 Corinthians 4:6-15 and (213) Galatians 5:22-6:2
Gospel:  (17) Luke 5:1-11 and (24) Luke 6:17-23

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, One God.

When the story is told about the fishermen at the Lake of Gennesaret, we hear the whole thing condensed into a two minute story, with beginning, middle and end.

What we don’t get from the story is the emotion that perhaps came along during the story.  While we have to speculate a bit, it seems pretty straightforward in some instances to imagine what the individuals in the story experienced.

For example, in this place and time, Jesus approaches two boats, and got into one of them, and asked the boat’s captain, Simon, to put out a bit from the land.  He did this so that he might speak to the crowd that was following him from the shore.

Now let’s back up for a minute.  We know that Simon later was called Simon Peter, one of the Chief of the Apostles, and that the other boat, presumably, was that of James and John, sons of Zebedee, who all were partners in the fishing enterprise.

These became the inner circle of the Apostles, present at the Transfiguration, and praying – or sleeping as Christ prayed – in the garden of Gethsemane.

But we’re not told if they had a previous relationship with Jesus prior to this event.  Blessed Theophylact in his commentary on this passage says that Peter did not know this man Jesus before.

So, let’s put ourselves in Peter’s position – here is a man, with a crowd following Him, we don’t know for sure, but let’s say 40 people.  He asks to borrow the boat.  You’ve been fishing all night, and are tired, but you agree.

Now, here comes the interesting part.  The guy tells you to go into the deep and put your nets down for a catch.  What do you do?

The aspect of this which is maybe most important for us to think about, is that there is no promise associated with this request.  Jesus doesn’t say, “put out into the deep and put down your nets, and then here’s what will happen.”

There is no promise of an outcome.

Throughout the history of God’s relationship with humanity, there is rarely a promise of an outcome associated with God’s requests.  He doesn’t tell us where we are going.  He doesn’t offer why we should follow His requests.

So, in other words, God doesn’t generally share His future plans.

He didn’t share them with Noah, nor with Abraham, nor with Joseph, nor with Moses.

And so it is perhaps futile to seek “God’s will” for our future also.

Some, particularly those of us from protestant backgrounds and evangelical backgrounds – we were taught to seek God’s will in everything.

Some of us (and I’m speaking of myself here) took that to the extreme.  What socks does God want me to wear today?  Should I take Lincoln Way or 13th Street?

Should I take this job or move to this place or marry this person?

God’s will doesn’t necessarily operate that way.  What we used to call the “particular” will of God for us individually isn’t necessarily a real thing.

God’s will is much simpler, and much more difficult, than making individual decisions for us throughout our lives.

God’s will is that we, in love, focus all our attention at all times on Him.

Everything else He can work with.  Regardless of our job, regardless of our spouse or lack of spouse, regardless of what color socks we might wear.

And so, when we understand God’s request of us, and we follow through, either generally or specifically, there is a benefit to us.  In those tasks we find our salvation.

When we see a homeless beggar, and we have an impulse to give to them.  When we see a neighbor struggling and have an impulse to help.  When we find someone sick and we have an impulse to visit them.

Basically, when we don’t talk ourselves out of being decent human beings, without judgement of anyone or their life or circumstance.

Look what happens to St. Peter – a catch of fish, after catching nothing.  Enough to fill two boats.

And, strangely enough, now a promise – Christ will make you not just fishermen, but fishers of men.

Christ rewards the fishermen abundantly for the use of their boat – and the boat was offered without expectation of compensation.

Finally, after everything he witnesses and experiences, Simon called Peter gets it.  He recognizes that he is in the presence of Holiness, and that he, Peter, the mortal and human, is unclean and unworthly.

Yet, Christ calls him anyway.  Christ uses him anyway.  Not even though Peter is unclean and unworthy – but actually because Peter is unclean and unworthy.

There can now be no doubt that it isn’t Simon called Peter manifesting these things.  All credit goes to the Christ, the Son of God.

And that, brothers and sisters, is what God desires of us.  Not our strengths.  He works in our weaknesses.  As such, we can’t take credit for the outcome.

The Glory belongs to God – the Glory of God is revealed in our weaknesses.

Whenever I’m thanked for a good homily, I always try to respond with “Thank God!”  Because I’m not blessed as a speaker nor homilist.  Yet, it is God working through that inability to bless and reveal Himself to others.  So to Him belongs Glory and Praise.

Not me.

Deny yourself, your ego, and follow Christ.  He will work through your weaknesses – and you – you will be amazed.

Beyond your wildest imagination.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, One God.