WHAT DIFFERENCE DO I MAKE?
Homily from Father Francis Maple
WHAT DIFFERENCE DO I MAKE? LUKE 5:1-11.
There comes a time when we ask the question, 'What difference do I make?'Is the answer, "I matter very little?" I can understand why we come to that conclusion. After all the world is a big place and is full of big problems. Many of those problems are beyond our power to control or correct. Not one of us can end the animosity between nations, and races and religions. Nor can we employ all the jobless, or feed all the hungry, or house all the homeless. We cannot even eliminate poverty in our own country, let alone the world. Not even the most gifted and able of us, can stop the drug traffic or free the addicts from their deadly habit. What hope have we of making a difference in the world? This disparity between the size of the problem and the size of ourselves overwhelms us. On the one side we have the world crying out for help and on the other side we have individual men and women, willing to help but feeling so inadequate and insignificant. It is a situation like this that prompts the question, 'What difference do I make?' Our Gospel reading provides some insight. It tells us about three men, Peter James and John. We regard them as spiritual giants who are not in our class. It does not surprise us that these men made a difference in the world. You would expect people of that calibre to have a major influence on the time and place in which they lived. But these men were not spiritual giants that day when they left everything to follow Jesus. They were just ordinary people, who lived by the Sea of Galilee and made their living as fishermen. One morning, they were on the shore cleaning their nets, after an unsuccessful night of fishing. Jesus appeared on the scene, and a crowd gathered. This was an opportunity for Him to spread His message. He borrowed Peter's boat for a pulpit, and had it pushed a short distance from the shore. There He sat and taught the people. When He had finished teaching them, He said to Peter, "Put out into the deep water and pay out your nets for a catch." Peter must have thought, "What's the point?" He had been working hard all night, trying to land a good catch, but had caught nothing. How frustrated and exhausted he must have been. Then along came Jesus, not a fisherman, and started giving him orders. He was sure there was no fish to be caught now, but to please Jesus he paid out his net. What a shock he got when he caught such a vast amount of big fish! At first he was overwhelmed with a sense of his own unworthiness. Falling at the feet of Jesus, he cried, "Leave me, Lord, I am a sinful man." It was then that Peter discovered that on his own he could achieve very little, but with the help of Jesus's knowledge and power there were no limits to what he could do. So he accepted the invitation to become a follower of Jesus. That has to be our starting point if we are to make a difference in the world. There's a delightful story told about a young lad who was walking with his father along the sea shore. The tide had brought in on the beach many starfish, and as you know starfish cannot survive the rays of the sun. So the lad would pick up a fish and place it back in the water. After he had done this about five times his father said, "Son, there are so many starfish on the shore. What difference can you make?" The boy looked at the starfish in his hand and said, "It'll make a difference to this one, Dad." There is a lesson we can learn from this. That boy had a kind, thoughtful nature which was given to him by the Lord. If we, like him, could open ourselves up to the Lord and let Him work through us we can make a difference. We may only be able to help one person, but that one has significance. Now, if there were many people opening themselves up to the Lord in this way, it would make a tremendous difference to the world. This brings us back to our introduction. We must never look upon ourselves as isolated individuals who can achieve nothing. We must never be discouraged at the vastness of the problems and the little that our efforts can produce. As Peter discovered, if we have Jesus working on our side our efforts can make a tremendous difference. God bless, Fr, Francis