Jon 3:1-5,10; 1Cor 7:29-31; Mk 1:14-20
In the homily of Fr. Bel San Luis, SVD, he narrated about a despondent man who said to his mother, “I’ve stopped going to church for two reasons: I don’t like the people and the people don’t like me.” The mother looked at him and said: My son, you should go back to church for two reasons: you’re already 59 years old, and you’re the parish priest.”
Our gospel today tells us about Jesus Christ calling some simple men, mostly fishermen to share the responsibility of gathering the family of God and proclaiming the good news of salvation to each other. These men whom He called were completely unprepared and they did not even belong to any religious groups at that time.
According to William Barclay in his commentary on the gospel of St. Mark (1985, p.28) said that they were simple folk. They did not study in some known schools and colleges; they were not drawn from the ecclesiastics or the aristocracy; they were neither learned nor wealthy. They were fishermen. That is to say, they were ordinary people. No one ever believed in the ordinary people as Jesus did. As once George Bernard Shaw said: “I have never had any feeling for the working classes, except a desire to abolish them, and replace them by sensible people.” A man should never think so much of what he is but as of what Jesus Christ can make of him. As of the twelve, they were challenged by Jesus’ words to become ‘fishers of men’, and so they followed Jesus and wanted to know Him better and preached Him to other people. Later on, they continued His work of salvation whether the people like them or not, much like the dejected and rejected parish priest in the story.
Since these people whom Jesus called were already dead, nowadays, this work of becoming fishers of men is continued by the Church and her priests and bishops. But we hear so many criticisms of so many people, according to Fr. Bel San Luis, SVD in his homily, about them as our church leaders. There are so many parishioners complaining about their parish priest of being irritable, strict, unapproachable, materialistic, ultraconservative, OMI (Out More than In), chicks terada, also catz terada, gambler, drunkard and many others. Many Catholic people left the church and transferred to other religion because of the undesirable qualities of a bishop or a priest; they got angry with the priest.
I even read a poem, A Priest is Always Wrong, which I think expresses some complains thrown to priests:
If he waits for people, they say he has never been punctual
If he starts the Mass on time, they say his watch is wrong
If he owns a car, people say he is luxurious
If he does not have one, they say he is always late
If he asks for donation, people say he is a moneymaker
If he does not ask, they say he is proud and lazy
If he is seen with women, people say he is a playboy
If he goes with men, they say he is a sissy
If he preaches too long, they say they get bored
If his homily is too short, they say he is unprepared
If he visits houses, people say he is always out
If he stays in the convent, they say he has no time for them
If he is too young, they say he has no experience
If he is too old, they say he should retire
But when a priest dies nobody takes his place.
Perhaps we should put this into our minds that being God’s priest does not abolish his humanity. When he is ordained as a priest, he did not become an angel. Pride, ambition, personal interest, greed for power and materials and even sensuality are very much present in a priest and blinded him just like other people. But the Lord called and selected imperfect men just like St. Peter who was so sensitive and denied Him for three times and yet he became the head of His universal church.
I think the question for us to reflect is: Do we help our priests? If yes is our answer, then, in what way and how? Is it by giving money, clothes and other material things? Yes, the priests need these too but what they need most is your prayer especially in times of their crisis in vocation, your understanding, cooperation and supports.
These church leaders on their part have the obligation by virtue of their divine calling, to constantly strive to overcome their human weaknesses and also become better priests and servant-leaders. Concretely, we continue to strive live as good shepherds, servants and stewards of people whom God has given to us. Just like me, I have this human weakness that when I see a beautiful woman, my sensuality is very strong. So now, I just look at her for a moment and then vow my head.
Many have the idea that the call of Christ to preach the good news is solely for the priests and bishops. This is not true. Christ Himself commissions every Christian to a ministry of love and justice by virtue of his/her baptism and confirmation. Vatican II says: “Incorporated into Christ’s mystical body through baptism and strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit through confirmation, the laity are assigned to the apostolate by the Lord Himself” (Apostolicam Actuositatem no. 3). So whether you are an accountant, a doctor, a nurse, an engineer, a lawyer, a CPA, a teacher or whatever, you share in the apostolate of preaching, teaching, healing and witnessing to Christ’s teachings in your particular work, office and endeavor through your works of mercy and concern.
How can the laity participate in carrying out this apostolate? Think also of our lay cooperators, catechists, liturgists, choir members, KRISKA (Kristohanong Kasilinganan or Christian Neighborhood) Alagads, and others who give their time and services for the church and for the Lord ‘gratis et amore’. Consider too of many dedicated Catholics involved in renewal movements like Charismatic, Marriage Encounter, Couples for Christ, Parish Renewal Experience (PREX), Samaria Cursillo and many more.
There are so many opportunities for laity to practice the apostolate assigned to them by the Lord and of making the gospel known to all. Vatican II says: “The very testimony of their Christian life and good works done in supernatural spirit, have the power to draw men (and women) to belief and to God,” (Apostolicam Actuositatem no. 6).
As Fr. Bel San Luis, SVD (Manila Bulletin, 1994 p. 11-12) said that no one can deny the power of good example. Just the way you live can do more good than many sermons and voluminous books. Whether you’re a religious or layperson, He is counting on you.
See Today’s Readings: Cycle B