Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

OTHER HOMILY SOURCES:

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time – on the Gospel

By Fr Munachi E. Ezeogu, cssp

Isaiah 6:1-2,3-8

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Luke 5:1-11

Unworthy Ministers

 In a certain church there was a man in the choir who couldn’t sing very well. The choir director suggested that he should leave the choir. Others felt he should be given more time to improve. The choir director then decided to go to the pastor and complain. “You’ve got to get that man out of the choir or else I’m going to resign.” So the pastor went to the man and said to him, “Perhaps you should leave the choir.” “Why should I leave the choir?” the man asked. “Well,” said the pastor, “four or five people have told me you can’t sing.” “That’s nothing,” the man replied, “forty or fifty people have told me you can’t preach!” Today’s readings show us how God can make use of the most unlikely people to fulfil the divine purpose.

The first reading is on the call of Isaiah, the second on the call of Paul, and the Gospel on the call of Peter and his coworkers. How did these people feel when they realized that they were in the presence of God. They all felt unworthy of God. Isaiah said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips!” (Isaiah 6:5). Paul felt himself unfit to be called an apostle, because he persecuted the church of God. (1 Corinthians 15:9). And Peter fell down at Jesus’ feet and said, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:8). Initial feeling of personal unworthiness could be a sign that a soul has seen God. That is why humility is said to be the first and primary virtue in authentic spirituality. The feeling of personal worthiness and competence, not to talk of the feeling of self-righteousness and spiritual superiority, could be a sign that the soul has neither seen nor known God.

When the soul confesses its sinfulness and inadequacy before God, God reaches out and absolves the sinner and renders him or her competent to serve Him. In the case of Isaiah, one of the seraphs touched his lips with a burning coal taken from the altar of the temple and said to him, “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out” (Isaiah 6:7). In the case of Simon Peter, Jesus said to him, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people” (Luke 5:10). We see that their qualification for the work of God does not come from them but from God. It is not their personal achievement; it is God’s grace. That is why Paul could say, “But by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15:10).

Beyond the feeling of personal unworthiness, there is another quality that the three people who are called to do God’s work in today’s readings have in common, and that is the availability to do God’s will and the readiness to follow His directives. As soon as Isaiah hears the voice of the Lord asking, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” his immediate response was: “Here am I; send me!” (Isaiah 6:8). In the case of Peter and his partners, we are told that “they left everything and followed him” (Luke 15:11) without looking back. And Paul threw himself with so much zeal into God’s work that he worked harder than all those who were called before him, though as he is quick to points out, “it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10). Merely feeling unworthy and incompetent does not make us into people that God can work with. We must add to that the availability and willingness to go out there and do as the Lord directs.

When we follow the guidance of the Lord in our lives, we achieve results that will blow our minds. This is what we see in Peter’s miraculous catch of fish. He and his men toiled all night long and caught nothing. They were relying on their own competence as seasoned fishermen and following their own minds as to where and how to throw the net. The result, in one word, was failure. But when they followed the Lord’s guidance which, humanly speaking, did not make much sense (fishermen did not set the net in broad daylight), the result was a resounding success.

Today, as always, the good Lord continues to ask: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” The Lord still needs messengers, men and women who, like Isaiah, will proclaim the Good News of God’s love in the temple, or who, like Paul, will announce it in foreign lands to the ends of the earth, or who, like Peter, will speak up for God in the workplace and bring their coworkers and business partners to know and follow the Lord. If we feel unworthy and incompetent for the work of God, know that it is only people who feel that way that God can use. All that remains is for you to take the risk and say, “Here am I; send me!” The Lord himself will see to it that He renders you fit for the job He wants you to do for Him, as He did with Isaiah, with Paul, and with Peter.

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5th Sunday in Ordinary Time – on the Epistle

By Fr Munachi E. Ezeogu, cssp

Isaiah 6:1-2,3-8

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Luke 5:1-11

Passing on the Message

 Children love playing “telephone.” You know the game. Children stand in a circle and one of them whispers something to the next person in line, who then whispers it to the next person, and so on. By the time the message gets back to the beginning of the circle, it has invariably changed beyond recognition. Why does the message change? Two reasons: either people did not clearly hear what was said to them or they did not clearly pass on what they heard.

In today’s second reading from Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, Paul reflects on his role as an apostle of Christ. Even though Paul did not meet Jesus face-to-face in his lifetime, Paul was sure that he was passing on the authentic teaching of Christ. Paul’s certitude is based not on the many visions of Christ that he enjoyed but on the teaching that he received from those who were apostles before him. “For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received” (1 Corinthians 15:3). In other words, Paul understood his ministry as essentially that of passing on the message. To succeed in doing this, two things are most important: how one receives the tradition, and how one passes it on. Using the analogy of playing the “telephone,” in order to transmit the message faithfully down the line, each person in the chain must endeavour to hear correctly what is being passed on to him or her, and then make sure that he or she passes it on faithfully to the next person.

Are we faithfully passing on the message of Christ to our people today? To answer this question we need first to ask ourselves (a) how faithful are we in hearing the message of Christ? and (b) how effective are we in passing it on to others?

To hear faithfully the message of Christ means to do everything possible to improve our understanding of the Good News that Jesus brought to the world. Here the Bible is of supreme importance. We need to do all we can to improve our Bible reading habits and skills. Parish Bible study groups are very helpful in this regard. The ability to read and understand the Bible is of supreme importance because, as St Jerome said, “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.”

The teaching of the Church, which is a distillation of the teachings of Christ passed on from one generation to the next by living witnesses, is equally an important channel for hearing the message of Christ. As Jesus himself said to his messengers, “Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me” (Luke 10:16). Yet we must hear the messenger with discernment, for as the word of God travels down the line through various times and cultures, it takes on the embellishment of those cultures. We must, therefore, try to discern what is the word of God and what the cultural clothing it has donned in its journey through various cultures. We must distinguish between the unchangeable word of God and the changeable traditions in which the word has been clothed and transmitted.

Having understood the essential message of Christ, we then take on the second phase of our duty as faithful messengers, namely, passing on the message. The unchangeable word of God is always expressed and celebrated in changeable traditions. Hence the need to understand the cultural situation of those with whom we want to share the message. Missionaries to foreign lands know the need to learn the language and culture of a people before they can share the word of God with them effectively. Similarly, in our bid to pass on the message to young people today, me must understand that they live in a different sub-culture. To effectively pass on the message of Christ to them we must use the vernacular, the art-forms, and the values that they can identify with. In so doing we do not change the message of Christ, we only change the medium through which it is expressed and transmitted.

Like St Paul, we are called to hear the word of God and to share it with others. Our duty is to ensure that we hear it correctly and pass it on without any distortions as the kids do when they play “telephone.” Let us resolve today to take steps to learn to hear and understand the word of God better, and faithfully to pass it on to those coming after us.

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5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

by Fr. Jack McArdle

GOSPEL : Luke 5:1-11.

Theme

If you have been following the gospels of the past few Sundays, you will notice that Jesus’ mission is brought one step forward today. He has begun to recruit followers, whom he will inform, form, and, eventually transform, so that they will be able to continue his mission when he returns to his Father.

In the old manuals on mental prayer, they spoke of a thing called The composition of place. This was when you closed your eyes, and tried to place yourself within the story, and to imagine what the scene was like. Today’s gospel presents a beautiful and simple picture. There is something special about a lakeside, and the presence of the odd fishing boat makes it even more attractive. By now, Jesus had begun to attract crowds, who gathered to listen to his message. (Remember, this was in the days before megaphones, amplifiers, or public address systems!). The nearest thing to a pulpit he could find was a boat, and, so, by pulling out a bit from the shore, his voice would carry much better on the water, and he was free from the pressing crowds.

The next scenario is both simple and central. Peter was beaten, without a fish to show for his work, and, so, the scene was set for a miracle. As usual with Jesus, the result was pressed down and flowing over, as with the wine at Cana, or the baskets of loaves and fish left over after everyone had been fed.

Peter made the first of his many many mistakes. He asked Jesus to leave him, because he was a sinful man. That must surely have brought a smile to the face of Jesus, because it was for such sinful people that he had come. Jesus ignored Peter’s remark, by implying that you ain’t seen nothing yet. He invited Peter and his friends to join him full-time in the mission he was undertaking. There was something magnetic about Jesus, and, immediately, they abandoned ship, and set off down the road with him.

Parable

Christianity is about attracting, rather than promoting. Throughout history, we read about founders of communities, of Congregations, of Orders. These were people with a vision. They were dynamic, filled with zeal, and had a powerful sense of mission. Such enthusiasm is highly contagious! Such people always attract attention, and this leads to attracting followers. In recent years, we have seen horrible and grotesque aberrations of this, in the form of cults, that was based on mind control, and that led hundreds to their deaths through suicide pacts. It is the duty of leaders to lead, but it is also their responsibility to know where they’re going. Like Moses headed for the Promised Land, Jesus was totally open and definite in the direction of his life. He came to do the Father’s will, and he was led by the Spirit. Thank God for the many wonderful leaders and founders with which the Lord has provided us down the centuries. Thank God, for the many such people who are alive and active among us today.

Teaching

Something worth noting: Jesus is spoken of as teaching rather than preaching. There is a difference. The art of teaching is to bring the learner from the known to the unknown. Jesus speaks of fish, of sheep, of vines, of trees, of water, etc., all of which would be there within the view of his listeners. The Acts of the Apostles begins by telling us that Jesus came to do and to teach. A cynic described education as a process in which information is transferred from the notebook of the teacher to the notebook of the student, without having passed through the heads of either! Jesus spoke and taught from the heart, and what comes from the heart of the speaker always reaches the heart of the listener. In himself, Jesus was the message, and that was what gave weight and power to his words.

The two ingredients for a miracle are present in this story. The first condition is that Peter is powerless, and, despite fishing all night, he has caught nothing. The second condition is that he believes that, if he lowers his nets at Jesus’ word, things will be completely different. This is the common denominator for all the miracles in the gospel.

I said earlier that Peter made a great mistake when he judged himself unfit and unworthy to be in the presence of Jesus. In actual fact, that is correct, if we fail to understand the purpose of Jesus’ mission. He came to call sinners, and Peter could actually have said, with much greater accuracy and truth, “Lord, please stay with me, because I am a sinful man”. In the past, the church has not been good in its dealing with sinners. With the pulpit thumping, hell-fire, and open condemnation, sinners were left in no doubt that they did not belong! The message that came across to them was “Depart from us, for you are a sinful person”. Thankfully, because of the renewal that is going on in the church, we are beginning to recapture the mind and the message of Jesus.

Response

Today’s gospel begins by telling us that the people had gathered, and were listening to the word of God. ‘Word’ means several things, from a word in a dictionary, to a message(Have you had any word yet?), to a promise(I give you my word). Jesus is the Word of God, the message and the promise of God. It is very important that we listen. Jesus said, on another occasions, They have ears, but they hear not, and again They who have ears to hear, let them hear. Prayer is not so much me speaking to God, who may not hear, but God speaking to me who may not listen. The essence of real prayer is the ability to be still inside, and to listen to the word of God there. There is a big difference between praying and saying prayers. I could teach a parrot to say a prayer, but I could never teach a parrot to pray.

Language is a strange thing, because it can mean so many different things to many different people. In our language, to fail, to be powerless, to be totally unable to deal with a situation,…all of that is weakness, failure, and cause for shame. In God’s language, the very same situations are extraordinary opportunities for grace, and for God to show his power. Peter had failed. He was a fisherman, and, after a whole night’s fishing, he hadn’t caught a fish. That is failure in anyone’s language, especially in the language of a fisherman. The situation was ideal for Jesus to step in, just as he had done at Cana. He is the God of the hopeless, the God of the helpless, the God of the powerless.

Jesus came to look for, to seek out sinners, and to bring them safely home. If he had a hundred sheep, and one went astray, he would leave the ninety-nine to go after the one that is lost. Peter totally failed to grasp that, when he asked Jesus to leave him. The correct prayer would be Lord, please stay with me, because I am a sinner. Please don’t leave me, because, apart from you, I’m totally lost. And, of course, the whole message of Jesus is to reassure sinners that he is always there for them. Peter was only too well aware of his brokenness, and many later episodes in the gospel will point to, and confirm that fact. It is significant that Jesus made Peter head of the apostles. The principal of evangelising is that one sinner tells another, just, as with Alcoholics Anonymous, where one recovering alcoholic helps another achieve sobriety.

Practical

Do you own a Bible? I mean a small modern translation, that you would be able to pick up from time to time? There is a huge selection and choice available today, including booklets with daily readings from Scripture. If Jesus came to teach, it is necessary that we should be willing to listen and learn.

I have no doubt that each one of us could come up with something specific in our lives, when, like Peter, we have fished all night and caught nothing. Some area in which we encounter repeated failure. This could be anything from an addiction, to a resentment, an inability to forgive, to a scar of mind or memory which has never healed. This has the potential for a miracle, if I am willing to hand it over. Let go, and let God. There is nothing impossible with God…

Do you experience the sense or awareness of being called? The fact that you are here now, reading, or listening to this, implies that you are responding to something. Vocation is a word that is being given back to the laity, to whom it belongs in the first place. There is no greater call for a human being that to follow Jesus, to become a Christian. Hold on to that word vocation today; turn it over in your mind; make it your own, and develop within yourself a very real sense of being called and chosen. You did not choose me; no, I have chosen you. I have appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will remain. I have called you by name. You are mine.

Story

A woman came out of her house and saw three old men, with long white beards, sitting in her front yard. She did not recognise them. She said “I don’t think I know you, but you must be hungry. Please come in and have something to eat”. “Is the man of the house home?” they asked. “No”, she said. “He’s out”. “Then we cannot come in”, they replied. In the evening when her husband came home she told what had happened. “Go tell them I am home, and invite them in”. The woman went out and invited them in. “We do not go into a house together”, they replied. “Why is that?” she wanted to know. One of the old men explained: “His name is Wealth”, he said as he pointed to one of the men. Pointing to the other, he said “His name is Success, and my name is Love. Now go in and discuss with your husband which one of us you want to invite into your home.” The woman went in and told her husband what was said. Her husband was overjoyed. “How wonderful!”, he said. “Since that is the case, let us invite Wealth. Let him come in and fill our house with wealth.”

His wife disagreed. “My dear, why don’t you invite Success?” Their daughter was listening from the kitchen, and she jumped in with her own suggestion. “Would it not be better to invite Love? Our home would then be filled with love”. “Let us heed our daughter’s suggestion”, said the husband to his wife. “Go out, and invite Love to be our guest.”

The woman went out and asked the three old men “Which of you is Love? Please come in and be our guest.” Love got up and starting walking towards the house. The other two also got up and followed him. Surprised, the woman asked Wealth and Success “I only invited Love. Why are you coming in?”

The old men replied together “If you had invited Wealth or Success, the other two of us would have remained outside. But since you invited Love, wherever he goes we go with him. Wherever there is Love there is also Wealth and Success.”

When Jesus called people to follow him, he offered them love, and everything else would follow……

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How to become ‘fishers of men’

 By Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD

THREE friends, who had not seen each others since their high school days, met in a class reunion. “In our town,” said the first who was a doctor, “people call me ‘Monsignor’ because I am a part-time lay minister.”

The second, who was a lawyer, bragged: “Well, I’m a charismatic elder. I give spiritual talks so everybody calls me ‘Cardinal.’”

* * *

The third, who was intently listening, said: “I’m higher than you two. I’m a sales representative going house to house but I sideline as a collector at Mass. Many call me ‘God.’”

“What, God? How come!” his puzzled friends asked. “You see, when I knock at the doors of my customers and they see me,” the sales rep said, “they exclaim, ‘My God, my God, you again!’”

* * *

The gospel of this 5th Sunday relates about Jesus calling His first apostles — a band of simple fishermen. “They left everything” — their work, their boats, their families — and followed Him (Lk 5:11). This formed the core group on which Christ founded His Church.

Unfortunately many have the idea that the call of Christ is addressed only to the apostles and their successors, the bishops, priests and religious.

* * *

That’s not true. Every Christian is commissioned to a ministry of healing, preaching and teaching by virtue of his or her baptism. Those professionals in the above story who do voluntary services in church show this.

The Decree on the Laity of Vatican II states: “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” (3).

* * *

How can you be an apostle of Christ or “fisher of men?” You can do this concretely by participating in church works like in your parish. Today there are numerous lay Catholics who sacrifice time, money and effort for the church by rendering services as eucharistic lay ministers, lectors, collectors, choir members and yes, the sacristans.

Consider, too, the many lay Catholics involved in various renewal movements such as the charismatic organizations like the Loved Flock, Neo-catechumenate, Marriage Encounter, Couples for Christ, and yes, the El Shaddai.

* * *

So whether you are an accountant, a lawyer, clerk, doctor, musician, an executive, a teacher, a driver or whatever, you have to share in the apostolate of preaching, teaching, healing and caring.

Of course, the most basic and effective form of being a fisher of people is through the testimony of Christian living or witnessing to Christ’s teachings. If people who rub shoulders with us begin to recognize a special “something,” like sincere kindness and joyful service, they might eventually be attracted to our Christian way of life.

* * *

The British TV journalist Malcolm Muggeridge was a celebrity who did not care much about God and religion. He did something he swore he would never do — become a Catholic.

What led to his conversion? He had an assignment to write about the late Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Travelling to India, Muggeridge thought the trip was just the usual work but the amazing thing was in the course of his talks and days of observation of the kindly nun, he experienced a change of heart.

* * *

Muggeridge said: “Words cannot express how much I owe her. She showed me Christianity in action. She showed me the power of love. She showed me how one loving person can start a tidal wave of love that can spread to the entire world.”

Ask yourself: Would lukewarm and non-Catholics be edified by your way of life so that they too would want to become active and dedicated Catholics?

* * *

Or would people be turned off from the Catholic faith if they see in you the opposite of what Christ taught or if they see parish organizations becoming places of jealousies, intrigues and gossips?

In his encyclical “Redemptoris Missio” Pope John Paul II said: “People today put more trust in witnesses than in teachers… The witness of a Christian life is the first and irreplaceable form of evangelization.”

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5th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

 Homily # 1

“With that they brought their boats to land, left everything behind, and became his followers”.

This is one of those bothersome sentences in scripture. It is bothersome because we tend to think in material terms – and this makes the “everything” sound like we have to sell off the house, the TV, the car, the golf clubs (no! not my golf clubs!!!!), and give away all but the clothes on our backs.

For Peter and his partners in the fishing business, the day of this gospel must have been their greatest success. They were amazed at the amount of fish they had caught – their nets were straining to the breaking point – the quantity nearly sank their boat and another boat. A fisherman like Peter would know the monetary value of this day by just looking at the load of fish. The modem day equivalent would be the worker getting the promotion to their dream job with an unimaginable wage increase, more than enough to take care of all their family finances. This is the big, lottery winning moment in Peter’s life.

And then Peter and his partners, looking at perhaps the catch of their dreams, realize that their dreams of material success pale in the light of Jesus Christ. They see in Jesus the answer, not to the dreams of their minds, but to the hopes of their souls. Jesus does not ask them directly to give up anything – they choose the thing of greater value, the pearl of great price, which is life with Jesus which makes everything in their lives secondary to being with Jesus.

I’d like to assume that they kept the boat. I’d like to believe that it’s the same boat they use a few chapters later in Luke when Jesus calms the storm at sea. I’d like to believe that they still kept their hands in fishing to earn a bit of a living. The fishing business, however, was no longer number one in their lives – their reason for living. Instead, following Jesus became number one.

So it is to be with us.   We are asked by Jesus to make God number 1 in our lives. We are asked to make secondary to God, the “things” of our lives. In our world it is very easy to make “things” so important that they dominate our lives – to the point that our possessions possess us. There are people (and we may be one of them) who bury themselves in their work so deeply that the rest of life may as well not exist. The story line in books, movies or TV series about the obsessive workaholic who spends endless hours at the office and becomes a stranger to their spouse and children is a common theme. That arch-type is not limited to the corporate world. We can bury ourselves in many things. Children can become buried in sports (often with the help of their parents). Mothers can become buried in caring for their children. Ministers can bury themselves in doing good for others.

We can make the “catch of our dreams” as Peter did – we can be standing in our newcomer office with the VP sign on the door, “top of the heap!” … we can win the game with a basket and get the scholarship we hoped for.. .we can be sitting at a rectory desk with a parish organization chart showing how we’ve covered all the ministerial bases… and we can feel a vague emptiness inside, like that old song by Peggy Lee saying, “Is that are there is?” Is that all there is? Is that all there is?

Interesting!!! Things which bury us have a common thread – they all involve our own egos and a belief that we are in charge and in control of our destiny. In the end, though, we give up control to these things and they come to dominate our lives, affect our personalities and limit the availability of choices in our lives.

Jesus calls us to freedom. Jesus calls us, as he did Peter and John and James, to make the “everythings” of our lives second to being with our God.

In return for “leaving everything behind” we get something. It is something which, when you receive it, does not leave a vague sense of a hard to define emptiness, of needing something else.

In return, we get love and friendship and peace and hope and joy and compassion and forgiveness.

Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.


Homily # 2

All three readings today have a similar theme.   They all recount individuals being called to the service of God.  In the first reading, when the Lord said to Isaiah, who lived some 700 years prior to Christ’s birth,  “Whom shall I send?”, he replied, “Here I am, send me.”

Likewise, in the second reading, St. Paul recounts that after Jesus had appeared to many other individuals, He appeared to Paul himself.  And finally, in the gospel, Peter, James and John are convinced Jesus is the Messiah after their boats are overwhelmed and their nets are splitting because of the number of   fish they caught.

Each of these men was called in a dramatic fashion.   A burning ember on the lips of Isaiah, Paul being knocked from his horse and Peter, James and John having their boats almost sink under the weight of the fish they caught.  One might have the feeling, “Well, if God called me by performing a similar miracle, I would probably accomplish great things also.”

Well, the truth is, God has called each of us.   Maybe we didn’t hear his voice or experience some miraculous conversion but, let’s face it, neither did most other people.  I don’t recall Mother Teresa or Pope John Paul ever revealing they had a miraculous calling from God.  True, we may not consider ourselves in that league, so to speak, but everyone has a call from God. Sometimes we don’t remember or don’t even recognize the call.

When I was called to the Priesthood (Diaconate) I didn’t experience any miraculous occurence. I thought about the possibility, I prayed and then decided this is what God wanted me to do. Those of you who are married had a call from God.  By the very fact that you were born, the young people here have had a call from God.  While we might say, “But my call was so ordinary ..not at all like the call these men experienced.”

The important fact is that it’s not the call the counts,  It’s how each person, Isaiah, Paul,  Peter, James or John react to the individual calling we receive.     Those men merely accepted God’s invitation and if we do the same, then our lives are can be fulfilling as was theirs.

As an example, how does a married person react positively to the call of God?  By truly loving your spouse. There probably is no husband or wife here that will say, “Well, that’s always easy to do.”   It may be easy most of the time but there are times when it’s probably difficult.  And that’s the key!  God asks all of us to accept our calling and react in a manner that mirrors the reaction of His Son, Jesus Christ.

When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemene, He initially reacted exactly the way many of us react when we find ourselves in situations that are difficult or uncomfortable.   We might think we never experience Christ’s dilemma but when husbands and wives don’t agree, when children do not want to obey their parents, when we are tempted to sin against the Commandments, we, too, face a difficult decision.  Jesus responded to the possibility of His being crucified by moaning, “Let this cup pass from me.”

Is anyone here in that same situation right now?   “My spouse and I had a fight, my parents don’t understand me, my boyfriend wants me to get more deeply involved that we should ……”  How we react to those situations determines whether we are truly answering God’s call to us.

“Why do I have to make these difficult decisions?   Why do I have to think of God or of other people?  Why not just do what I want to do?” are questions we frequently ask ourselves.  Paul was called to evangelize the world, Peter was called to martyrdom.  They reacted positively to their calling and that is what each of us must do.  We are expected to accept the conditions of “our ordinary calling”.

For us,  answering the call may be the courage to kiss one’s spouse and say, “I’m sorry.”   It may be realizing God has given your parents the responsibility to expect reasonable obedience from you.  It also may be that you have the responsibility to tell your boyfriend or you friends, “NO.”  Is that easy to do?  Not always.

In Gethsemene, Jesus was terrified.  He did not want to face the upcoming ordeal just as we often do not want to face adversity.   However, we should give the same answer to our God as Jesus gave to His Father,   “Not My will but Thine be done.”

The three men mentioned in today’s readings faced many difficulties.  At times they were under intense pressure.  We may not be as famous as they were but we walk the same walk they walked.  The pressures and the difficulties we have are real.

As we face any difficulty in answering our call to follow God’s will we should follow Christ’s example in the Garden and we should turn to His father in prayer.   He WILL answer us.  He will give us the strength and the courage to react in the same manner as did the three men in today’s reading.

Isaiah said “Here I am, send me!”

Paul said, “But by the grace of God I am what I am and His grace to me has not been ineffective.”

And the reply of Peter, James and John was eloquent.   When they brought their boats to the shore, “they left everything and followed Him”.

We should too.


Homily # 3

I was at O’Hare the other day waiting to check in.  The person next to me looked willing enough to talk. Faced with the prospect of being in line for another twenty minutes, I asked, “Where are you going?”  She said, “To a seminar in Seattle on meditation and simplified living.”  Before I could say, “Oh, that sounds interesting,” the line started moving. So, I skipped that thought and said instead, “Let me get by so I can move those heavy bags someone left in the way.”  She said, “Oh, those are mine.”

Wow, what complex people we have become. Even when we are headed to a seminar on meditation and simple living, we find it hard to leave everything behind. If Jesus came to gather a group of disciples today, he would probably have to rent a U-haul to carry them around. The disciples would have to travel in big busses pulling equipment trailers around like the country western stars.

Yet, “leave everything behind” is a favorite theme with Jesus.  He says it when he confronts those who want to know where he lives, share more in the love of God and deepen their faith. He even suggests lightening up on family commitment from time to time.  Even in Hollywood films, he never seems to have pockets in his tunic.

But the importance in Simon Peter’s response is not what he left behind, but what he picked up that day.  He let go of himself and took up everyone else. His focus changed from “me and mine” to “God and everyone else.”   Peter did more than change his name and adopt a new lifestyle on that day, he took Jesus’ challenge to love God and others as himself.

What made this change possible:  God spoke to him, God filled his life, God called him to action, and he responded positively.  Are we in Peter’s position today?  We are tempted to say no.  We cannot recall Jesus visiting our work place and filling our “nets.”  A call from the parish to help out with the annual picnic does not sound as dramatic or final as “Come and I will make you fishers of men.”  Yet, are we sure that this scene is not happening every day? Is the reality of God speaking to us gone, a thing of the past?

Not at all, God speaks to us.  Maybe not as he did to Isaiah and Peter through a direct confrontation.  Yet, He speaks to us.  We hear Him every time the Word is proclaimed. We have a conscience, a soul—we hear Him speak to us there.  In prayer, we find ourselves in conversation with Him.    No, Peter was not the first or last person God spoke to: God speaks to us from inside and out, through our thoughts and the thoughts and actions of others, especially the saints.  We have the same opportunity to connect to God as Peter.   God is like the Army, He is always recruiting seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Harder possibly than believing God speaks to each one of us, is accepting that he fills our “nets.”  For me this is not God’s fault. He is doing plenty, but I seem to keep increasing the size of the net and the quality of fish I want.  Like a child at Christmas—my list keeps increasing and changing with years.  First, it was help me pass my geometry test, then a date for the senior ball, a promotion at work, well behaved children…. (This aspect of the homily needs to be tailored to the local demographic and the particular preacher.)

We can also be sure that God is constantly calling us to action.  We tend to miss that sometimes thinking he is talking to the person next to us.  Or, that the gospel reading is for the next Mother Teresa, not someone like our selves.  Yet, we are not pre-destined by God to be mediocre. We can be assured that Jesus’ warning about being lukewarm applies to all of us.  We are all called to holiness in an unlimited way.  God’s call is unwavering and clear, but its ultimate impact is determined by how we listen. No matter if were listening or not, God is calling.

It seems then the circumstances are ripe for us to respond just as positively as Peter did.  God is speaking to us. God is filling our nets. God is challenging us.  So how come we still find ourselves putting away the boat at the end of each day instead of putting on our walking sandals?  How come we find ourselves waving good-bye to Jesus as he walks on, rather than waving goodbye to our comforts and security and walking on with the Lord to become fishers of men and women?

It can’t be that there are no fish to catch. 60% of our Catholic brothers and sisters are not with us at mass.  This means that the group of people we don’t see each week is 50% larger than the group we do see—namely us.  Add to this group, those who have not even had trip through the front door, and the numbers are staggering.

It is not like “fishing for people” is out of season either. In fact, the parish just announced a new evangelization effort (name of your parish activities in this area).   There is a great need for more help.  The common reaction to the call for help with this ministry is “I feel uncomfortable talking to others about my faith.”  Which is easier to talk to someone about joining the Church, or to join without being asked?   It is hard to tell since both situations are too rare.  Let’s get out of our boats and find out by asking our neighbors, family, colleagues and most of all our enemies to come share in this wonderful, sacramental based faith we have.

God is doing his part. He is speaking, He is filling our nets—not a breath, not a tree, not an engineering plan, a dental repair happens without him—He is calling us by name, in fact.  We just need to look at our big, full nets and realize where the fish in them really come from and say, “YES!”

Today’s gospel is speaking to us, it is challenging us.  Were definitely in the same boat as Simon, the question is, are we willing to get out like Peter.

Ok then, let’s go Peter.


Homily # 4

Saint Luke, in his Gospel, explains that one day Jesus was standing on the shore of the Lake of Gennesaret.  There were many people surrounding him and, since there were quite a few, they were pressing in on him.  This was because they were anxious to hear him preach the Word.  Seeing this multitude, the Lord observed that there were two boats anchored alongside the lake and, for safety’s sake, he decided to embark in one of them.  This boat belonged to Simon Peter.  He already knew Jesus.  He had been with Jesus in other circumstances.

I am sure that it was not by chance that the Lord chose this boat.  He was in the process of choosing his apostles.  And, clearly, Peter was one of them.  He wanted to have Peter by his side.  Not only as company and friend.  He had already decide to make Peter a fisher of men, his vicar on earth, the head of the Church that he was forming.

Jesus, on that day, was going to perform a great miracle.  He had already done many wonderful things on that lake and on its shores.  Many had seen him do these things.  And that could have been the reason that so many people had gathered there.  After preaching, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Put out into deep water, and lower your nets for a catch.”  Peter still did not know Jesus well.  So he obeyed but with some degree skepticism and very little confidence. They had been fishing all night long without catching anything.  This could have been the reason for his reluctance to lower the nets once again.  When Peter saw that the catch was so abundant that it did not fit in the boat so that he had to call his partners in the other boat over to help out, he threw himself at Jesus feet and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”  We know that Peter was impulsive and even stubborn.  But he was also very humble and he had a big heart.  When he saw the miracle he remember how he had acted.  And that was the reason that he asked for pardon.  Jesus already knew him and, because he did, he had already chosen him to be his apostle even though Peter did not know this.

The word, “apostle,” means, “Someone sent on a mission.”  God calls all of us Christians, just as Peter and the rest of the apostles, from the moment of our conception to carry out a mission.  When the Lord calls, some listen and others lend a deaf ear to the call.  God chooses us and it is for us to obey or to resist his call.  But let there be no doubt that all of us could be apostles if we decided to listen to God when he calls.  And we should know that it is not for us to choose the Lord.  It is the Lord’s prerogative to choose us, just as he chose the apostles.  Let us not be tempted to excuse ourselves saying that we are not worthy of doing what God wants us to do.  In the First Reading we see how the prophet Isaiah did not feel that he was competent to carry out the mission that the Lord had called him to do.  He did not believe that he had the vocation to be a prophet nor that he had the facility of speech.  But God wanted him.  So the Lord sent one of his seraphim to take an ember from the altar and place it on the lips of Isaiah, pardoning his sins and giving him the gift of speech.  Afterwards Isaiah heard the Lord ask, “Whom shall I send?  Who will go for us?”  And Isaiah immediately said, “Here I am, Lord, send me!”  He received power and courage from God.  Isaiah understood that he really could be the prophet that God wanted him to be.  And he stopped resisting.

The Second Reading shows us the same thing but, in this case, the chosen one was Saint Paul.  He likewise did not feel up to the great mission that he later carried out.  Saint Paul, already an apostle, exhorted the Christians of Corinth to follow the teachings of the Gospel.  Christ asks us to do more.  Not only does he ask us to follow them, he asks us to preach them in everything that we say and do.  And we should not place obstacles in the way.  We should remember that God is with us and he will give us the strength we need to overcome the obstacles, failures and frustrations that we will surely encounter.  The prophet Isaiah and the apostles Saint Paul and Saint Peter, great men in the history of our faith, urge us to honestly imitate them and to live up to the vocation that the Lord has given us.


Homily # 5

Is. 6:1-8; Ps 137 angels; 1 Cor 15:1-11; Lk. 5:1-11 Fishers of people

Years ago, I was talking to a single woman. She told me she had a boyfriend once. One day her boyfriend said to her, “I love you.” She got scared and ran away as fast she could. I wonder if she was she running away from her vocation? On second thought, God does not call everyone to married life. The Catholic Church sees value in three states in life: single, married and religious. Catholics are under no compulsion to get married. I have not heard from that woman for years, so I don’t know what ever happened to her. Today, commitment is a scary word.

After they make a lifelong commitment, priests, Brothers and Sisters, plus married people, are no longer free to explore every option. Sometimes the only honest thing to say is “You have a future. I have a future. However, we do not have a future. So I will not waste your time.” Just imagine how many arguments, headaches and legal fees people would avoid if everyone said, “You have a future. I have a future. However, we do not have a future. So I will not waste your time.” Yet in an emotional situation, it is not always easy to think analytically and to speak logically. We always need to pray to the Holy Spirit for inspiration. And sometimes the Holy Spirit will tell us to run away as fast as we can.

In today’s Gospel, Simon Peter, later known as St. Peter, could not run away. He was stuck with Jesus in the same boat. So Peter tried the next best thing. He said, “Leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man.” That did not work. Jesus still had big plans for Peter and his companions, plans to forget about fish with fins and to start fishing for converts.
A dozen years ago, Pope John Paul II wrote a book titled: Crossing the Threshold of Hope, and he focused on that saying of Jesus, “Do not be afraid.” Pope John Paul II commented:

1.) Peter, do not be afraid of the truth about yourself. You are a sinner, but Jesus does not reject you. Rather, he summons you to a mission.

2.) Peter, do not be afraid of other people. Peter, you cannot run away from people. You are imperfect, and Jesus is sending you to fish for imperfect people.

3.) Peter, do not be afraid of God. Jesus will teach you to call God “Our Father.” Peter, Jesus will urge you to desire to know, love and serve God, and to become perfect just as the Heavenly Father is perfect, even though you cannot reach this goal on earth.

4.) Peter, do not be afraid of God made flesh. Peter, the Holy Spirit will inspire you to call Jesus the Son of the Living God (Mt. 16:16). Peter, do not be afraid to call Jesus Savior. By the way, one prayer at Christmas says about Jesus “In him we see our God made visible, and so we are caught up in love of the God we cannot see.”

5.) Peter, do not be afraid that the Word made flesh would suffer, be slapped in the face, scourged, crowned with thorns, be crucified, die and be buried. Do not be afraid to call a condemned loser, a crucified criminal, or so people thought, both Lord and Savior.

6.) Peter, the opposite of being afraid is being boastful. Peter, when you got carried away with yourself and said, “Even though I should have to die with you, I will not deny you,” (Mt. 26:35) that is when you made a fool of yourself. Courage lies midway between cowardice and foolhardiness. Virtue always lies between two extremes, as you, Peter, were to learn the hard way by ignoring all fear.

7.) Peter, do not be afraid of God’s mystery, of God’s plan for your life. When you left your boat, Peter, you had no idea where God would lead you in a month, a year, or in 20 years. But God knew where he was leading you.

8.) Peter, do not be afraid of God’s love. Peter, do not be afraid to let God love you. Do not run away from God’s love. Peter, do not be afraid to tell God that you love him.

9.) Peter, do not be afraid of either human weakness or human grandeur. Peter, some of your friends are weak and foolish while some of your enemies are smart and powerful. Peter, be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of those around you, but, Peter, do not be afraid of what you see.

10.) Finally, Peter, do not be afraid to die for Jesus Christ. Do not be afraid of the gift of martyrdom.

The Pope wrote this in his book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, and ended that chapter by saying to us, “Do not be afraid to bear witness to the dignity of every human life from the moment of conception until death.”

When the Pope wrote that book, he still had a lot of life in him. He was flying around the world on a busy schedule. But as the years passed, he had to slow down physically. Since he was still alert mentally, that was a cross for him to bear. Finally, when he was 84 years old, he stopped traveling and was confined to his room for the last several days. Was he afraid at the end? One report says that his last words were, “Let me go to the Father.” Physically limitations and discomfort, yes, frustration at no longer being able to do much of anything, yes, even fear of the pain of death, yes, but in spite of that, he kept his dignity. He still had the faith and the courage to prepare himself for his final trip.

Having quoted Pope John Paul II at length, I will now end with a brief quote from cowboy John Wayne. John Wayne said, “Courage is when you are as scared as hell, but you still saddle up your horse and ride.”

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How to become ‘fishers of men’

 By Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD

THREE friends, who had not seen each others since their high school days, met in a class reunion. “In our town,” said the first who was a doctor, “people call me ‘Monsignor’ because I am a part-time lay minister.”

The second, who was a lawyer, bragged: “Well, I’m a charismatic elder. I give spiritual talks so everybody calls me ‘Cardinal.’”

* * *

The third, who was intently listening, said: “I’m higher than you two. I’m a sales representative going house to house but I sideline as a collector at Mass. Many call me ‘God.’”

“What, God? How come!” his puzzled friends asked. “You see, when I knock at the doors of my customers and they see me,” the sales rep said, “they exclaim, ‘My God, my God, you again!’”

* * *

The gospel of this 5th Sunday relates about Jesus calling His first apostles — a band of simple fishermen. “They left everything” — their work, their boats, their families — and followed Him (Lk 5:11). This formed the core group on which Christ founded His Church.

Unfortunately many have the idea that the call of Christ is addressed only to the apostles and their successors, the bishops, priests and religious.

* * *

That’s not true. Every Christian is commissioned to a ministry of healing, preaching and teaching by virtue of his or her baptism. Those professionals in the above story who do voluntary services in church show this.

The Decree on the Laity of Vatican II states: “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” (3).

* * *

How can you be an apostle of Christ or “fisher of men?” You can do this concretely by participating in church works like in your parish. Today there are numerous lay Catholics who sacrifice time, money and effort for the church by rendering services as eucharistic lay ministers, lectors, collectors, choir members and yes, the sacristans.

Consider, too, the many lay Catholics involved in various renewal movements such as the charismatic organizations like the Loved Flock, Neo-catechumenate, Marriage Encounter, Couples for Christ, and yes, the El Shaddai.

* * *

So whether you are an accountant, a lawyer, clerk, doctor, musician, an executive, a teacher, a driver or whatever, you have to share in the apostolate of preaching, teaching, healing and caring.

Of course, the most basic and effective form of being a fisher of people is through the testimony of Christian living or witnessing to Christ’s teachings. If people who rub shoulders with us begin to recognize a special “something,” like sincere kindness and joyful service, they might eventually be attracted to our Christian way of life.

* * *

The British TV journalist Malcolm Muggeridge was a celebrity who did not care much about God and religion. He did something he swore he would never do — become a Catholic.

What led to his conversion? He had an assignment to write about the late Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Travelling to India, Muggeridge thought the trip was just the usual work but the amazing thing was in the course of his talks and days of observation of the kindly nun, he experienced a change of heart.

* * *

Muggeridge said: “Words cannot express how much I owe her. She showed me Christianity in action. She showed me the power of love. She showed me how one loving person can start a tidal wave of love that can spread to the entire world.”

Ask yourself: Would lukewarm and non-Catholics be edified by your way of life so that they too would want to become active and dedicated Catholics?

* * *

Or would people be turned off from the Catholic faith if they see in you the opposite of what Christ taught or if they see parish organizations becoming places of jealousies, intrigues and gossips?

In his encyclical “Redemptoris Missio” Pope John Paul II said: “People today put more trust in witnesses than in teachers… The witness of a Christian life is the first and irreplaceable form of evangelization.”

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Word Alive

Called to be ‘fisher of men’

By FR. BEL R. SAN LUIS, SVD

February 5, 2010, 4:17pm

Three friends who had not seen each other for years met at a class reunion. “In our town,” said the first who was a doctor, “people call me ‘Monsignor’ because I am a lay minister.”

The second, who was a lawyer, bragged: “Well, I’m a charismatic elder. I give spiritual talks so everybody calls me ‘Cardinal’.”

* * *

The third, who was intently listening, said: “I’m greater than you two. I’m a sales representative going house to house. I also serve in church as a collector at Mass.

“Many call me ‘God.’” “What, God? How come!” his friends asked. “You see, when I knock at the doors of my customers and they see me,” the sales rep said, “they exclaim, “My God, my God, you again!”

* * *

The gospel of this 5th Sunday relates how Jesus called His first apostles – a band of simple fishermen.

“They left everything” – their work, their boats, their families – and followed Him (Lk 5:11). This formed the core group on which Christ founded His Church.

Unfortunately, many have the idea that the call of Christ is addressed only to the apostles and their successors: Bishops, priests, and religious.

* * *

That’s not true. Every baptized Christian is commissioned to a ministry of healing, preaching and teaching by virtue of his or her baptism. Those professionals in the above story who do voluntary services in church show this.

The Decree on the Laity of Vatican II states: “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” (3).

* * *

How can you be an apostle of Christ or “fisher of men”? You can do it concretely by participating in church works in your own parish. Today there are numerous lay Catholics who sacrifice time, money and effort by rendering services as lay ministers, lectors, collectors, choir members and yes, sacristans.

* * *

Consider, too, the many lay Catholics involved in various renewal movements such as the charismatic organizations like the Loved Flock, Neo-catechumenate, Marriage Encounter, Couples for Christ, and yes, the El Shaddai.

So whether you are an accountant, lawyer, clerk, doctor, musician, executive, teacher, driver or whatever, you have to share in the apostolate of preaching, teaching, healing, and caring.

* * *

Of course, the most basic and effective form of being a fisher of people is through the testimony of Christian living or witnessing to Christ’s teachings.

The British TV journalist Malcolm Muggeridge was a celebrity who did not care much about God and religion. He did something he swore he would never do — become a Catholic.

* * *

What led to his conversion?

He had an assignment to write about the late Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Travelling to India, Muggeridge thought the trip was just the usual work but the amazing thing was in the course of his talks and days of observation of the kindly nun, he experienced a change of heart.

* * *

Muggeridge said: “Words cannot express how much I owe her. She showed me Christianity in action. She showed me the power of love.

She showed me how one loving person can start a tidal wave of love that can spread to the entire world.”

This former atheist later wrote a book Something Beautiful for God acclaiming the charitable work of Mother Teresa.

* * *

Ask yourself: Would lukewarm and non-Catholics be inspired and edified by your way of life so that they too will want to become active and dedicated Catholics?

Or would people be turned off from the Catholic faith if they see in you the opposite of what Christ taught or if they see parish organizations becoming dens of intrigues and gossips?

In his encyclical “Redemptoris Missio” Pope John Paul II said: “The witness of a Christian life is the first and irreplaceable form of evangelization.”

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Moments
Upgrade

By Fr. Jerry Orbos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:54:00 02/06/2010

MANILA, Philippines—The story is told about a hotel guest who called room service and said: “I want breakfast with two eggs burned black around the edges, undercooked bacon, weak coffee, watery orange juice, and cold, hard, unbuttered toasted bread.”

The room service clerk asked: “Why would you want a terrible breakfast like that?”

“I miss home,” was the hotel guest’s reply.

* * *

In today’s Gospel (LK. 5 1-11), Jesus calls Simon from the ordinary toils of a fisherman to a higher level—that of becoming a fisher of men. This upgrade means for Simon the sacrifice of leaving the comforts of home, and the courage to leave everything to follow the Master. A lot of us spend a whole lifetime pursuing our selfish, personal and narrow worldly dreams and never quite step into a whole wide world filled with love and meaning because of our lack of generosity, sacrifice and dreams.

* * *

I am writing this column right at the very shore of the Lake of Gennesaret where today’s Gospel all happened. Just this morning I passed by a fisherman on the shore with his fishing rod and his little catch. A little later I saw a boat come in with a fisherman with a much bigger catch. The difference? One fisherman does not leave the safe, familiar shores, while the other fisherman goes out to deep waters. In life, too, there are people who play safe, and there are those who dare; there are people who no longer believe in change, and there are those who still care and dream.

* * *

It’s that time in our country again when politicians are lowering their nets for a catch in preparation for the May elections. But how low can they get? And how shallow can they think of the electorate, insulting our people of their intelligence and free will! It’s time for us to upgrade the way we choose our leaders, not to mention the breed of leaders we choose from. It has all boiled down to the 3GS of guns, goons and gold. I don’t know how it will happen, but I still hope and believe that the 3GS of God, goodness and guts will prevail. Let us be aware that the type of men and women we catch in the coming elections will be the ones that eventually will catch us!

* * *

We definitely need to upgrade public service in our country. Not only individuals, but even our institutions have been corrupted and divided. Who, what can raise us up from this valley of tears? Perhaps a leader, or a new breed of public servants will soon arise. But that is not going to happen if we do not go beyond our old ways, and become afraid or petrified. We must, at Jesus’ command, put out into the deep waters and there lower our nets. We must not give in to complacency. Otherwise, we will allow evil to triumph and continue.

* * *

In this Year of the Priests, let us not forget to honor also the parents of the priests. They have given their sons for the priestly ministry. In particular, we honor the mothers of priests. One such mother I would like to mention is the mother of Alaminos Bishop Marlo Peralta. Ms Lourdes Peralta was widowed early and had to raise her two children Greta and Marlo single-handedly, and this she did with so much devotion, love and perseverance. Here was a woman who loved much. Here was a woman who did not say much, who did not need to say much because her whole life was one loud clear message: “God is love.”

* * *

There are all sorts of times in our lives, but one time we must not forget is payback time. What favor are you returning to the Lord, to this world, and to nature itself? Somewhere down the road you and I must stop all the getting and really start giving. A good starting point for giving is forgiving and thanksgiving. And that can start right away, right now.

* * *

What if after Simon experienced the miracle of today’s Gospel, he still did not change his ways? Simon could just have downgraded or belittled his encounter with Jesus. I’m sure many of us would say that would have been unfortunate. The fact is that many of us who have experienced God’s blessings, forgiveness, and even healing often take these for granted and go back to our old ways as if nothing significant really happened. Let us examine our lives today and see God’s hand all along. Like Simon, may we too acknowledge our sinfulness and lack of gratitude. Like Simon may we too leave whatever we need to leave behind and follow Him more closely and love Him more dearly. May we not give up on our goodness and our capacity to love and give more. Why? Because God does not give up on us, at any point in our lives.

* * *

Were it not for the personal conviction that there is a loving God who knows, cares, loves and understands, many of us would have fallen for the sins of ignorance (I don’t know) and arrogance (I don’t care). Precisely because of such conviction borne not so much of knowledge but of personal experience, we believe that in everything that happens, there is a reason, there is a mission. Our biggest upgrade is not so much because of us, but in spite of us. If we can’t accept that, we are still ignorant and we are still arrogant.

* * *

A moment with the Lord:

Lord, thank you for the upgrade and for your constant challenge and encouragement. Amen.

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Word Alive

Be a Fisher of People

By Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD

February 8, 2013, 7:18pm

Manila Bulletin

Three classmates in high school met in a class reunion. “In our town,” said the first who was a doctor, “people call me ‘Monsignor’ because I am a lay minister.”

The second, who was a lawyer, bragged: “Well, I’m a charismatic elder. I give spiritual talks so everybody calls me ‘Cardinal’.”

* * *

Unimpressed, the third said: “I’m higher than you two. I’m a sales representative going from house to house but I serve as collector at Mass. Many call me ‘GOD’.”

“What? God? How come!” his friends asked.

“You see, when I knock at the doors of my customers and they see me,” the sales rep said, “they exclaim, ‘My God, my God, you again!’”

* * *

The gospel of this 5th Sunday relates about Jesus calling His first apostles – a band of simple fishermen. “They left everything” – their work, their boats, their families – and followed Him (Lk 5:11). This formed the core group on which Christ founded His Church.

Unfortunately, many have the idea that the call of Christ is addressed only to the apostles and their successors, the bishops, priests, and popes.

* * *

That’s not true. Every Christian is commissioned to a ministry of healing, preaching, and teaching by virtue of his or her baptism. Those professionals in the funny story above demonstrate this.

The Decree on the Laity of  Vatican II states: “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” (3).

* * *

How can you be an apostle of Christ or “fisher of men”? You can do this concretely by participating in church works in your parish. Today, there are numerous lay Catholics who sacrifice time, talent, and treasure for the church, rendering services as eucharistic lay ministers, lectors, collectors, choir members, catechists, social workers.

Then there are those involved in church organizations like the Legion of Mary, Knights of Columbus, Catholic Women’s League, and renewal movements like the Marriage Encounter, Couples for Christ, El Shaddai.

* * *

Of course, the most basic and effective form of being a fisher of people is through the TESTIMONY of Christian living or witnessing to Christ’s teachings.

The British TV journalist Malcolm Muggeridge was a celebrity who did not care much about God and religion. He did something he swore he would never do – become a Catholic.

* * *

What led to his conversion? He had an assignment to write about the late Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Travelling to India, Muggeridge thought the trip was just the usual work but the amazing thing was in the course of his talks and days of observation of the kindly nun, he experienced a change of heart.

* * *

Muggeridge said: “Words cannot express how much I owe her. She showed me Christianity in action.”    Ask yourself: Would lukewarm and non-Catholics be so edified by your way of life as to want to become active Catholics?

* * *

In his encyclical “Redemptoris Missio,” Pope John Paul II said: “People today put more trust in witnesses than in teachers…The witness of a Christian life is the first and irreplaceable form of evangelization.”

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FISHERS OF MEN: Reflection for the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C – February 10, 2013 – Year of Faith

Merong kwentong pabula (fable) tungkol sa tatlong magkakaibigang manok, baka at baboy na nagpapayabangan kung sino sa kanila ang may “pinakamay-silbi” sa buhay ng tao. Sabi ng manok, “Sa palagay ko ay ako… sapagkat, walang palya kung magbigay ako ng itlog sa mga tao.” Sagot ng baka: “May hihigit pa ba sa sariwang gatas na ibinibigay ko araw-araw?” Tahimik ang baboy. Di nga naman siya nangingitlog… at lalong di s’ya nagbibigay ng gatas (ewan ko kung nakatikim ka ng ng gatas ng baboy? hehehe…) pero dahil siya ang bida sa kuwento ay hindi dapat s’ya magpatalo sa dalawa niyang kaibigan kaya sabi nya… “Ako… ang kaya ko lang bigay ay ang aking buong pagkababoy… ang aking karne at dugo!  At kapag ibinigay ko yon, yun na!” Ang tawag d’yan sa ingles ay “total commitment”. Ito rin ang ipinakita ng mga unang alagad ni Jesus, ang mga mangingisdang sina Simon, Juan at Santiago. “Nang maitabi na nila ang kanilang mga bangka, iniwan nila ang lahat at sumunod kay Jesus.” Siguradong hindi naging madali sa kanila ang iwan ang kanilang pamilya at kabuhayan upang sundan ang isang karpentero ng Nazareth. Walang kasiguraduhang naghihintay sa kanila sa pagsunod kay Jesus ngunit nagawa nilang isuko ang lahat para lamang sundan Siya. Ang pagtawag ni Jesus sa mga unang alagad ay pagtawag din para sa ating lahat. Hindi lamang ito para sa mga pari, relihiyoso o mga madre. Ngayong Taon ng Pananampalataya ay pinapaalalahanan tayo na ipinagkaloob sa atin ang “misyon ng pananampalataya” noong tayo ay binyagan.  Lahat tayo ay ipinadadala ng Diyos at isinusugo Niya upang gumawa ng kabutihan sa ngalan ng Diyos at para magsalita tungkol sa Diyos.  Kung ating pag-iisipan ay hindi lang ito gawain ng pari.  Ito ay para sa lahat!  Ito ang ating pagiging “mamamalakaya ng tao”.  At hindi mo kinakailangang lumayo upang maisakatuparan ito.  Kung ikaw ay may pamilya ay doon ka ipinapadala ng Diyos.  Kung ikaw ay nag-aaral ay ipinapadala ka naman sa iyong paaralan. Kung ikaw ay manggagawa ay ipinapadala ka naman sa lugar na iyong pinagtatrabahuhan.  Ibig sabihin ay walang dahilan upang hindi mo magampanan ang pagiging alagad ni Kristo.  Kailan ka huling gumawa ng kabutihan para sa iba sa ngalan ng Diyos?  Nagawa mo na bang magsalita o magbahagi ng tungkol sa Diyos sa iyong kapwa?  Ang hadlang a misyong ito ay ang pag-iisip lang sa ating sarili.  Ito ang dapat nating iwaksi at iwanan kung paanong iniwan ni    Pedro at ng mga unang alagad ang lahat-lahat.  Magagawa rin natin ito kung kinikilala natin na tayo ay makasalanan at hindi karapat-dapat katulad ng pagkilala ni Pedro na siya ay hindi karapat-dapat kay Jesus Sapagkat kung alam natin ito ay maiintindihan natin na ang misyong ibinigay sa atin ay hindi para sa ating sarili kundi ito ay sa Diyos.  Tayong lahat ay tiatawagang “manghuli ng mga tao” para sa Kanya sa pamamagitan ng ating mabuting halimbawa at pagsaksi bilang mga tunay na Kristiyano. Tandaan mo… Hindi ka pupunta sa langit o sa impiyerno na nag-iisa… lagi kang may isasama… Saan mo dadalhin ang tropa mo?

kiliti-ng-diyos.blogspot.com

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See Today’s Readings: Cycle C

Back to: Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C

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