Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In our Gospel this weekend, we find Jesus passing by the Sea of Galilee. As he walks by, two groups of brothers are doing the everyday chores of fishermen, and he invites them to leave their current lives behind and follow him. Jesus must have seen something deeper in these men that prompted him to offer this uncertain invitation. He invited them to join his mission of spreading the message that the Kingdom of God is at hand. What about his invitation persuaded Peter, Andrew, James, and John to leave their comfortable and familiar lives to embark on an unknown journey?
We don’t hear of any discernment process for these men. They simply leave behind one way of life and embrace something unknown and dramatically different. As we know, this decision leads them to become the founding disciples and first to spread the Gospel of Jesus to the nations. There must have been something so powerful in Jesus’ invitation that stirred their hearts and souls to act in full trust. Their response, I believe, expresses their desire for a deeper life experience and more satisfying way of life, from ordinary to extraordinary. They embrace this opportunity with a sense of excitement, leaving immediately their boats to follow the Lord. They truly will become fishers of men. We are witnesses to this great excitement and willingness to answer the unique invitation of Jesus.
Jesus may not physically be passing by our place of work like he did with the disciples, but he does cross our paths. It would be nice and easy if we could actually hear his voice, but that is not how our faith encounter with Jesus tends to happen. Jesus calls each of us to experience life anew. He does it softly and often times unexpectedly. During this time of the year, I have always struggled with motivation. Putting away the Christmas decorations, cold and snowy weather days, and the lack of color outside feeds my lack of motivation. Usually, I plan a vacation to some colorful place to reenergize, relax and focus on listening to the Lord’s invitations. Not being able to travel due to the pandemic and my cancer treatments has forced me to be creative in “bringing color” into my life. This week I went and bought some house plants and flowers to spruce up my living area. What a difference a few plants can make in a rather plain space! They bring me comfort and inspire reflection. I use these plants to recall how beautiful God is and how God calls me to reflect that beauty. Through nature I hear Jesus calling me to leave one life experience and be renewed in another with hope in my discipleship.
With house plants comes the responsibility of the care that nurtures their growth. The disciples were entrusted with a similar task as “fishers of men”. They accepted the responsibility of caring for the faithful entrusted to them and were commissioned to help the flock grow. Thank God for their openness to this challenge. As we continue to answer the invitation to follow Jesus, let us pray for one another that we, like the Apostles, will care for the people that enter our lives and be willing to help them answer the same call. Working together, as the Church has called us to do, we can offer invitations through Jesus’ voice to those in most need or through simple but subtle encouragement.
As two parish communities we journey together, in union with all people of good will. May our support of one another be a voice of encouragement to proclaim the kingdom of peace, hope, and charity.