A season of hope

Posted January 19, 2018 at 12:00 am

“Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men” – (Mk 1:17)

Life_Giving Faith.pdf

The liturgical season has moved into what the Catholic Church refers to as Ordinary Time. The readings for Mass are anything but ordinary. In fact, extraordinary moments resonate with clear messages of faith, hope and love. Starting the new season is an invitation to act.

Answering the call

Jonah has a mission to act upon a task given to him by God. He initially runs away from the call out of fear and lack of trust in the Lord. Yet, God persists, Jonah surrenders to God’s will and the people whom he was sent to proclaim a warning to repented and returned to God. Jonah’s task was one of spiritual admonishment. There will be moments when we will be called to do the same. Yet, instead of a harsh attack, the approach should be rooted in love and mercy which will open the way to healing and life.

Jesus, early in his ministry, proclaims a Gospel of repentance. He called others in order to teach them his ways. While passing the Sea of Galilee, he saw St. Andrew, St. Peter, St. James and St. John, who were busy with the ordinary business of life: fishing and mending nets. Jesus called each of them, saying, “Follow me …” with the promise of making them “fishers of men.” They left, ordinary to follow the extraordinary.

Four fishermen dropped their nets, tattered and torn, to become apprentices of the net of Jesus. Historically these ancient devices are cast out into deep water in order to collect enough fish to fulfill the livelihood of families. These men walked out on their jobs without economic promise. Yet, they trusted Jesus completely, dropped everything and followed. Are we willing to put aside our ordinary lives and follow Jesus? How willing are we to grasp the net he places in our hands in order to bring others to him in our everyday jobs? How is this possible at all?

Open hearts

The heart is the core of our soul. If the heart is hardened, the door is closed to the call of Christ. If the heart is softened, the door is open wide to the call. What makes the heart hard? Anger, aggravations, frustrations, disappointments, lack of forgiveness, consistent struggles … a sense of hopelessness. Yet, working for the heart is a promise of hope. God is always with his people. The revelation of hope comes with Jesus. Knowing Jesus opens the heart to hope. To soften the heart, one must turn to prayer, become grateful, read Scripture and receive the sacraments. All are transformative.

Anxiety

St. Paul writes, “I should like you to be free of anxieties.” [1 Cor 7:32]. What are you worried about? What wakes you up in the middle of the night that makes falling back to sleep difficult? Let it go. “Time is running out.” [1 Cor 7:29]. To be anxious is to lack trust in Jesus. And if one is causing another anxiety because of senseless expectations, time is being wasted. Our calling is to focus our lives on complete trust in Jesus. His authority is from God. His word transforms. His promise is real. Our role is to listen to him with open hearts and trust. Our call is to follow him into the deep, and with the bait of his mercy and love, catch people in the net of our hearts. Cast out and become fishers of men. Amen.

Dow is the director of the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis for the Diocese of Baton Rouge.

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