Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
Comprehensive Catholic Commentary
Fr. George Leo Haydock
Editor's Note: We continue with this special feature provided by John Gregory with the Haydock Commentary found at the bottom of each page of the Douay-Rheims Bible. We publish it here in conjunction with the Epistle and Gospel for the Sunday Mass, with the cogent comprehensive Catholic Commentary penned by Father George Leo Haydock. For the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost the theme is those creatures swimming in the sea of fallen human nature in this world and who can only be rescued through the grace of God via those He has sent to reel in souls as fishers of men.
Epistle: Romans 8: 18-23
For I reckon that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come, that shall be revealed in us.
For the expectation of the creature waiteth for the revelation of the sons of God.
Commentary on Verse 19 The expectation of the creature. He speaks of the corporal creation, made for the use and service of man; and, by occasion of his sin made subject to vanity, that is, to a perpetual instability, tending to corruption and other defects; so that by a figure of speech, it is here said to groan and be in labour, and to long for its deliverance, which is then to come, when sin shall reign no more; and God shall raise the bodies, and united them to their souls, never more to separate, and to be in everlasting happiness in Heaven. Ch. Waiteth for the revelation of the sons of God. That is, for the time after this life, when it shall be made manifest that they are the sons of God, and heirs of the kingdom of this glory. Several interpreters understand all creatures whatsoever, even irrational and inanimate creatures of this world, which are represented as if they had a knowledge and sense of a more happy condition, of a new unchangeable state of perfection, which they are to receive at the end of the world. See 2 Peter i. 13. Apoc. xxi. 1. Now every insensible creature is figuratively brought in groaning like a woman in labor, waiting, and wishing for that new and happy state; but in the mean time unwillingly made subject to vanity, i.e. to these changeable imperfections of generations and corruptions, which then they shall be delivered from. Wi. The creature, & c. The creatures expect with impatience, and hope with confidence, to see a happy change in their condition; they flatter themselves that they will be delivered from the captivity of sin, to which man has reduced them, and enter into the liberty of the glory of the sons of God. Not that the inanimate creation will really participate the happiness and glory of the elect; although in some sense they may be said to have part in it, since they will enter into a pure, incorruptible and perfect state to the end of ages. They will no longer be subject to those changes and vicissitudes which sin has brought upon them; nor will sinful man any longer abuse their beauty and goodness in offending the Creator of all. St. Ambrose and St. Jerome teach that the sun, moon, and stars will be then much more brilliant and beautiful than at present, no longer subject to those changes they at present suffer. Philo and Tertullian teach that the beasts of prey will then lay aside their ferocity, and venomous serpents their poisonous qualities. Calmet. Others, by the creature or creatures, understand men only, and Christians, who groan under miseries and temptations in this mortal life, amidst the vanities of this world, under the slavery of corruption; who having already (v. 23.) received the first-fruits of the Spirit, the grace of God in baptism, have been made the children of God, and now, with expectation and great earnestness, wait and long for a more perfect adoption of the sons of God: for the redemption of their bodies, when the bodies, as well as the souls of the elect, shall rise to an immortal life, and complete happiness in Heaven. Wi.
For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him that made it subject, in hope:
Because the creature also itself shall be delivered from the servitude of corruption, into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.
For we know that every creature groaneth and travaileth in pain, even till now.
And not only it, but ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption of the sons of God, the redemption of our body.
Gospel: St. Luke 5: 1-11
At that time it came to pass, that when the multitudes pressed upon Him to hear the word of God, He stood by the lake of Genesareth,
And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets.
Commentary on Verse 2 Washing their nets. See St. Matt. iv. 18. and St. Mark i. 16, where it is said, that Christ saw them when they were casting their nets; i.e. some of them were casting, others washing, or mending, their nets. Wi.
And going into one of the ships that was Simon's, He desired him to draw back a little from the land. And sitting He taught the multitudes out of the ship.
Commentary on Verse 3 Why is it mentioned that there were two ships; that one of them was Simon Peter's, that Christ went into that one, and sat down in it, and sitting He taught out of that ship. No doubt, answer many of the ancient commentators, to shew that the Church was figured by the barque of Peter, and that in it is the chair of Christ, a permanent authority, prefigured by Christ's sitting down, and the true word of God.
Now when He had ceased to speak, He said to Simon: "Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught."
Commentary on Verse 4 Put back from whence you have just now returned. Where you failed without Christ, with Christ you will prove successful. Now is the proper time, when you act in My presence, and according to My orders; before it was not, when you followed your own, and not My will. Maldon. St. Austin interprets the text, Launch out into the deep, as spoken of distant nations, to whom the gospel was afterwards delivered: tolle signum in gentes, ad eas, quo prope, et ad eas quo longe. Isai. v. 26. and xi. 12.
And Simon answering said to Him: Master, we have labored all the night, and have taken nothing: but at thy word I will let down the net.
Commentary on Verse 5 Though these words of St. Peter seem to express his little hope of success, as he had been toiling the whole night, the most favorable time for fishing, yet they were intended by St. Peter to show his great confidence, that notwithstanding his bad success, he was willing to obey; he relied on His words, and let go his net in the same place where before he had been disappointed; and the event proved that the obedience and confidence of Peter were not in vain. Maldon. & c.
And when they had done this, they enclosed a very great multitude of fishes, and their net broke.
Commentary on Verse 6 When Christ commanded Peter to let go the net, as great a quantity of fishes were taken as this Lord of the land and sea wished. For the Voice of the Lord is the Voice of power, at the command of which, in the beginning of the world, light and every created thing sprang into existence. This it was that so much astonished Peter. St. Gregory Nazianzen c. xxxi. The net is broken, but the fishes are not lost, because the Lord preserves His servants among the scandals (schisms and heresies) of His enemies. Venenerable St. Bede.
And they beckoned to their partners that were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they were almost sinking.
Commentary on Verse 7 The other ship was probably at such a distance from them, that they could not be heard, had they called out to them; and this also is another proof of the greatness of the miracle, that though the other ship was fishing in the same place, though a little removed, they could catch nothing. Maldonatus This also shows that Peter was to call in other co-laborers, and that all were to come into Peter's ship. St. Ambrose in Luc.
Which when Simon Peter saw, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying: Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.
Commentary on Verse 8 Such was the excess of St. Peter's humility, that he judged himself unworthy in the presence of Christ, and by this rendered himself more worthy. So the centurion, for a similar act of self-abasement, merited to hear from Truth itself, that he was preferred to all Israel. Euthymius is however of opinion, that St. Peter desired Christ to leave him through fear, lest some evil should befall him, because he was not worthy of His presence. In the same manner as the widow of Sarepta thought her son had died, because she was not worthy of the presence of Elias. 3 Kings xvii. 18. Maldonatus.
For he was wholly astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken.
And so were also James and John the sons of Zebedee, who were Simon's partners. And Jesus saith to Simon: "Fear not: from henceforth thou shalt catch men."
Commentary on Verse 10 Jesus Christ answers the thought of St. Peter, that instead of any loss or evil coming to him, he should, on the contrary, receive a great reward, by being appointed a fisher of men; and, as he had taken so many fishes by the divine assistance, so he should take in his net innumerable souls, not so much by his own industry, as by the divine grace and assistance. Maldonatus.
And having brought their ships to land, leaving all things, they followed Him.
Commentary on Verse 11 We may suppose that these four apostles, like Andrew, followed Jesus Christ at the first call, but without attaching themselves to Him; and that now they attached themselves to Him, never to leave Him more.