February 10, 2013


Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men. – Luke 5: 10

   A certain pastor on a Sunday morning said from the pulpit, “I’ve been informed that I’m to become pastor of another parish. The same Jesus who led me to this church is now leading me to another.” Whereupon the choir started singing “What a friend we have in Jesus….”

   Perhaps the three fishing partners in today’s Gospel passage felt the same way after bringing in the huge catch of fish: What a friend they had in Jesus! Indeed, so overwhelmed were they by what had happened, “They left everything & followed Him.” An expression of gratitude did not seem enough.

   When we fulfill our Sunday obligation, we pay our weekly respects to God, so to speak. We say, thank you for filling our nets with fish, Lord; thank you for the food on the table, for family & friends, for the church, for this, that, & the other things, Lord. See you next week, Lord. Unfortunately for us, that isn’t good enough. There’s the “Follow me!” There’s work to be done, a mission to be carried out, a message to be delivered. Jesus has chosen us to be His living witnesses to the good news of eternal life, of a loving God who invites His children to share in His life of love.

   In a novel entitled “Caught in that Music,” a woman named Debbie is going to marry a man named Norman. Debbie’s brother Jonas doesn’t like Norman. He thinks Norman is dull, cold, disagreeable & unworthy of his sister. Debbie tells Jonas to be more tolerant & tries to explain why. She says, “Nothing is ever completely the way you think it is, or the way you’d like it to be. I didn’t love Norman right away. He loved me so much that I wished I could love him in return. Some people have to see love before they themselves can love.” Jonas asks, “Is that the way it works? Because He loves you, you love him?” Debbie replies, “Because I am loved, I see what you cannot see.”

   We usually think it works the other way around: “Because I love someone, I see in him or her what you do not.” But we have to understand that in our relationship with God, it doesn’t happen that way: It is God who first loves us. It is to the extent that we can begin to appreciate that that we can begin to see what others do not. It makes it possible for us to give ourselves to God with love.

   St. Paul tells us to regard ourselves “as servants of Christ & stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor. 4: 1). We are not in this alone. We have the teaching office of the Church to help us to do just that. But each of us has a responsibility “to make known the riches of this glory” (Col. 1: 27). If we are to be complete disciples, we must be stewards of the earth, of our possessions, & of our time & talents. But above all these things, we will be stewards of Jesus, the greatest of all God’s gifts to us. If we are to be good & faithful stewards, we must recognize the value of this gift of gifts. But receiving it in joy & thanksgiving isn’t enough. There is still the “follow me.”

   The true value of the treasure we have received is realized only in the sharing of it. We have been chosen to share the gift of God’s love in Jesus so that others may say, “Thank God! What a friend we have in Jesus!”  AMEN!