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To: All
From: Colossians 1:9-14

Prayer for Advancement in Holiness; Exhortation to Gratitude

[9] And so, from the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray
for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will
in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, [10] to lead a life worthy
of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work
and increasing in the knowledge of God. [11] May you be strengthened
with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and
patience with joy, [l2] giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified
us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. [13] He has
delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the
kingdom of his beloved Son, [14] in whom we have redemption, the
forgiveness of sins.


9-11. Knowledge that the brethren are advancing on the way to
holiness gives Paul joy and also leads him to intensify his prayer
and encourage them to keep up their effort. St John Chrysostom explains
this with a graphic example: "Just as at the racecourse the shouts to
encourage the riders increase the nearer they get to the finish, so the
Apostle vigorously encourages those faithful who are closest to
perfection" ("Hom. on Col, 2, ad loc.").

The Apostle asks God to fill the Colossians with knowledge of his will
(v. 9), and he puts particular emphasis on their needing the Holy Spirit to
enlighten them with his gifts of wisdom and understanding, to
enable them to distinguish good teaching from the misleading teaching
of the false apostles; this insight should express itself in all kinds
of good works: as St Thomas comments, "it is not enough to have
knowledge, for he who knows what is the right thing to do and fails to
do it commits sin (cf. Jas 4:17); therefore, one must need to perform
virtuous actions" ("Commentary on Col, ad loc."). Christians therefore
should always rely on God to strengthen them to do good; if they do so,
they will always be happy.

"To lead a life" (v. 10): literally, "to make your way", a typical
Hebrew expression often used in Sacred Scripture. Leading a life worthy
of the Lord means keeping his commandments, acting in a way that
reflects the dignity of God who created us and made us his children
through grace, and who watches all our doings with fatherly affection;
it means being very faithful to our Christian calling, which leaves us
in our place (cf. 1 Cor 7:21-24) but requires us to bear "fruit in every
good work".

12-14. "The dominion of darkness": the condition of enslavement to the
devil of a person in the state of sin. As is frequent in Sacred
Scripture (cf. Is 58:10; Jn 12:35; 1 Jn 1:5; 2:8; 2 Cor 6:14; Rom
13:11-14; Eph 5:7-13), the simile of movement from darkness to light is
used to refer to "redemption" or the change from a condition of sin to
one of righteousness and friendship with God, which is effected by
infusion of sanctifying grace (cf. St Thomas, "Commentary on Col, ad

"Light": this is a symbol of the risen Christ and also of the abundance
of graces which he won for mankind in his Easter Mystery. It also
describes the whole ensemble of supernatural benefits which grace
brings with it--goodness, righteousness (or holiness) and truth (cf.
Eph 5:9), which lead to the glory of heaven (cf. 2 Cor 4:6). Hence the
"rite of light", so richly a symbol of supernatural realities, which
has formed part of baptismal liturgy since the first centuries.

The struggle between light and the power of darkness is referred to in
many passages of Sacred Scripture (cf. Jn 1:5, 9-11). Darkness means
both evil and the power of the Evil One. Before the redemption took
place, all men--as a consequence of original sin and their personal
sins--were slaves to sin; this slavery darkened their minds and made it
difficult for them to know God, who is the true light. Christ our Lord,
by carrying out the redemption and obtaining forgiveness for our sins
(cf. v. 14), rescued us from the kingdom of darkness from the tyranny
of the Evil One, and brought us into the kingdom of light, the kingdom
of truth and justice, of love and of peace (cf. "Preface for the
Solemnity of Christ the King"), enabling us to enjoy "the glorious
freedom of the children of God" (Rom 8:21).

"His beloved Son": the Hebrew expression "Son of his love", which is
paralleled in the Greek, is one of the ways Jesus Christ is referred to
in the New Testament (cf. Mt 12:6; Lk 20:13). A variation, "my Son, the
Beloved", is spoken by the voice from heaven, that is, by the Father,
at Jesus' baptism (cf. Mt 3:17; Mk 1:11; Lk 3:22) and at the
Transfiguration (cf. Mt 17:5; Mk 9:7; Lk 9:35).

By speaking in this way St Paul, like St John, is underlining the fact
that "God is love" (1 Jn 4:8). God's love for us was made manifest by
his sending his only Son into the world so that we might live through
him (cf. 1 Jn 4:9). By dying on the Cross he won life for us; by
redeeming us with his blood he obtained forgiveness for our sins (cf.
Col 1:14; Eph 2:4ff): "He revealed to us that God is love, and he gave
us the 'new commandment' of love (Jn 13:34), at the same time
communicating to us the certainty that the path of love is open for all
people, so that the effort to establish universal brotherhood is not a
vain one (cf. "Gaudium Et Spes", 38). By conquering through his death
on the Cross evil and the power of sin, by his loving obedience he
brought salvation to all" (John Paul II, "Reconciliatio Et
Paenitentia", 10).

On the meaning of "redemption" and "forgiveness of sins", see the note
on Eph 1:7-8.

12. We Christians should be grateful to God for his great mercy in
deigning to free us from the power of the devil, forgiving our sins and
making us worthy to "share in the inheritance of the saints". We have
benefited in so many ways: "In addition to the gift itself, he also
gives us the power we need so receive it [...]. God has not only
honored us by making us share in the inheritance, but has made us
worthy to possess it. And so we receive a double honor from
God--firstly, the position itself; and secondly, the capacity to
measure up to it" (Chrysostom, "Hom. on Col, ad loc.").

Our sharing in "the inheritance of the saints" enables us to draw on
the treasury of spiritual goods which the Church is continually
applying to its members--prayers, sacrifices and all kinds of
meritorious actions, which benefit every Christian. This "inheritance
of the saints"--in which we begin to share in this present life--will
be found in its full and permanent form by those who attain everlasting
joy. The grace of conversion originates in God's loving kindness.
"Prior to God's gift of grace, although not every man might be sinful
there is nothing that he does or can do which would merit forgiveness
or the grace of God. You must realize", St John of Avila says, "that it
is God who has brought you out of darkness into his wonderful light
[...]. And what caused him to do so was not your past merits or any
service you have rendered him, but his kindness alone and the merits of
our only mediator, Jesus Christ our Lord" ("Audi, Filia", 65).

Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text
taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries
made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of
Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock,
Co. Dublin, Ireland.

2 posted on 09/04/2003 9:00:46 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All
From: Luke 5:1-11

The Miraculous Catch of Fish and the Calling of the First Disciples

[1] While the people pressed upon Him (Jesus) to hear the word of God,
He was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret. [2] And He saw two boats by
the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their
nets. [3] Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, He asked
him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the
people from the boat. [4] And when He had ceased speaking, He said to
Simon, "Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch." [5]
And Simon answered, "Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But
at your word I will let down the nets." [6] And when they had done
this, they enclosed a great shoal of fish; and as their nets were
breaking, [7] they beckoned to their partners in the other boat to come
and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they
began to sink. [8] But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus'
knees, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord." [9]
For he was astonished, and all that were with Him, at the catch of fish
which they had taken; [10] And so also were James and John, sons of
Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, "Do
not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men." [11] And when
they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed


1. "Just as they do today! Can't you see? They want to hear God's
message, even though outwardly they may not show it. Some perhaps have
forgotten Christ's teachings. Others, through no fault of their own,
have never known them and they think that religion is something odd.
But of this we can be sure, that in every man's life there comes a time
sooner or later when his soul draws the line. He has had enough of the
usual explanations. The lies of the false prophets no longer satisfy.
Even though they may not admit it at the time, such people are longing
to quench their thirst with the teachings of our Lord" ([St] J. Escriva,
"Friends of God", 260).

3. The Fathers saw in Simon's boat a symbol of the pilgrim Church on
earth. "This is the boat which according to St. Matthew was in danger
of sinking and according to St. Luke was filled with fish. Here we can
see the difficult beginnings of the Church and its later fruitfulness"
(St. Ambrose, "Expositio Evangelii sec. Lucam, in loc."). Christ gets
into the boat in order to teach the crowds--and from the barque of
Peter, the Church, He continues to teach the whole world.

Each of us can also see himself as this boat Christ uses for
preaching. Externally no change is evident: "What has changed? There
is a change inside our soul, now that Christ has come aboard, as He
went aboard Peter's boat. Its horizon has been expanded. It feels a
greater ambition to serve and an irrepressible desire to tell all
creation about the "magnalia Dei" (Acts 2:11), the marvellous doings of
our Lord, if only we let Him work" ([St] J. Escriva, "Friends of God", 265).

4. "When He had finished His catechizing, He told Simon: `Put out into
the deep, and lower your nets for a catch.' Christ is the master of
this boat. He it is who prepares the fishing. It is for this that He
has come into the world, to do all He can so that His brothers may find
the way to glory and to the love of the Father" ("Friends of God",
260). To carry this task out, our Lord charges all of them to cast
their nets, but it is only Peter He tells to put out into the deep.

This whole passage refers in some way to the life of the Church. In
the Church the bishop of Rome, Peter's successor, "is the vicar of
Jesus Christ because he represents Him on earth and acts for Him in the
government of the Church" ("St. Pius X Catechism", 195). Christ is
also addressing each one of us, urging us to be daring in apostolate:
`"Duc in altum. Put out into deep water!' Throw aside the pessimism
that makes a coward of you. `Et laxate retia vestra in capturam. And
pay out you nets for a catch.' Don't you see that you, like Peter, can
say: `In nomine tuo, laxabo rete': Jesus, if You say so, I will search
for souls?" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 792).

"If you were to fall into the temptation of wondering, `Who's telling me
to embark on this?', we would have reply, `Christ Himself is telling
you, is begging you.' `The harvest is plentiful enough, but the
laborers are few. You must ask the Lord to whom the harvest belongs to
send laborers out for the harvesting' (Matthew 9:37-38). Don't take
the easy way out. Don't say, `I'm no good at this sort of thing; there
are others who can do it; it isn't my line.' No, for this sort of
thing, there is no one else: if you could get away with that argument,
so could everyone else. Christ's plea is addressed to each and every
Christian. No one can consider himself exempt, for whatever
reason--age, health or occupation. There are no excuses whatsoever.
Either we carry out a fruitful apostolate, or our faith will prove
barren" ("Friends of God", 272).

5. When Christ gives him these instructions, Peter states the
difficulties involved. "A reasonable enough reply. The night hours
were the normal time for fishing, and this time the catch had yielded
nothing. What was the point of fishing by day? But Peter has faith:
`But at Your word I will let down the nets.' He decides to act on
Christ's suggestion. He undertakes the work relying entirely on the
word of our Lord" ("Friends of God", 261).

8. Peter does not want Christ to leave him; aware of his sins, he
declares his unworthiness to be near Christ. This reminds us of the
attitude of the centurion who confesses his unworthiness to receive
Jesus into his house (Matthew 8:8). The Church requires her children
to repeat these exact words of the centurion before receiving the
Blessed Eucharist. She also teaches us to show due external reverence
to the Blessed Sacrament when going to Communion: by falling down on
his knees Peter also shows that internal adoration of God should be
also be expressed externally.

11. Perfection is not simply a matter of leaving all things but of
doing so in order to follow Christ--which is what the Apostles did:
they gave up everything in order to be available to do what God's
calling involved.

We should develop this attitude of availability, for "Jesus isn't
satisfied `going halves': He wants the lot" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 155).

If we don't give ourselves generously we will find it very difficult to
follow Jesus: "Detach yourself from people and things until you are
stripped of them. For, says Pope St. Gregory, the devil has nothing of
his own in this world, and naked he comes to battle. If you go clothed
to fight him, you will soon be pulled to the ground: for he will have
something to catch you by" ("The Way", 149).

Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text
taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries
made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of
Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock,
Co. Dublin, Ireland.

3 posted on 09/04/2003 9:04:24 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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