iPray with the Gospel: I Will Make You Fishers of Men

Jesus saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.

Matthew 4:12-23

Dear Apostles, what an astonishing reaction of yours. We don’t know ‘why’ Jesus decided to choose you and no others. We don’t know of any special talents you had or whether you could write, read, speak in public or answer basic religious questions about your faith… But there is something we know about you. When Jesus called you, you responded immediately. We don’t know what Jesus saw in you but maybe it was just that: that you were ready to say ‘Yes’ without delay. Perhaps Jesus called many others, but only you twelve were ready to leave everything and follow Him immediately.

Peter, Andrew, James, John, Matthew, Philip, Nathanael, all the Apostles!…Your reaction is astonishing. There was no dialogue, no negotiation, no questions and answers. You just left everything to follow Jesus and you didn’t care where or how, what for or for how long, who else was coming with you, what you would eat or drink or wear, where you would sleep, whether you would have holidays of any kind or a salary…

God could count on you, His Apostles, because you trusted Him. You help to understand it well: in God’s projects, you don’t see the plan and then follow Him; you follow Him and then you see His plan. We could say that in God’s plans, the ‘light switch’ is behind the door. You need to enter the room in darkness, to grope along the wall until you find the switch, turn on the light and, then, you see the room into which God called you. We don’t follow our vocation when we are 100% sure, because we can only be 100% sure when we first ‘follow’ it. Peter, Andrew, James, John and all the other Apostles, I ask your help today, with the powerful intercession of Mary, Queen of Apostles, to be able to follow God immediately, leaving behind everything He asks me to.


By Rev. George Boronat

Link: http://stjosemaria.org/ipray-fishers-of-men/

Advertisements

Poverty of Spirit

As we see in the exercises on the call of Christ, our King, and in later exercises, the disciple of Christ aspires to poverty.

All of us are called to “poverty of spirit,” or spiritual poverty, which describes a stance of utter dependence before God, not in any demeaning, servile sense, but in the sense of the Principle and Foundation: God is God, and we are creatures created to praise, love, and serve God. Before all else, we depend on God for our happiness and fulfillment. While we are grateful for our talents, abilities, wealth, and achievements, we are free enough to offer them to the service of God and others and to let go of them when they get in the way of that self-giving.

In short, poverty of spirit is an emptying of self so that God can fill us with life and love. Our prayer helps us grow in spiritual poverty and freedom. Christ is the model of spiritual poverty par excellence.

Christ also lived in actual or material poverty, with a lack of material goods. Some people may be called to this way of living. Priests, brothers, and sisters in religious orders profess a vow of poverty, renouncing personal possessions and wealth and depending on their religious community for their material needs. God may call others to a life of material poverty without professing vows. Material poverty is not an end in itself, for abject poverty is degrading to the human person (as a survey of our world so tragically reveals). Instead, for those called to this state of life, material poverty is a means to deepen one’s commitment to the poor whom Christ held so dear.

Although not everyone is called to live a life of actual poverty, we are all called to live simply and in freedom with respect to the riches we have—whether they are in the form of material possessions, talents, reputation, or influence. All are called to labor with Christ to help the poor and powerless in some way. All are called to give countercultural witness to the rampant competition and materialism around us.

Excerpt from The Ignatian Adventure by Kevin O’Brien, SJ.

 

JESUS EMPTIED HIMSELF  

Based on Sept. 14, 2015 Readings

(c) Sabbath

This text on an ancient Christian hymn is extraordinary in how it shows the the reality of Christ’s nature and person. It seems that it should have been written after hundreds of years of reflection of the Christian Gospel, yet it occurs within the first generation after Jesus’ death. The Holy Spirit can doextraordinary things in our lives if we allow Him room to move.

How do we empty our lives of self-interest? This is a critical aspect of the call to holiness. Without this, it is virtually impossible to surrender ourlives to the will of God and be completely pleasing to Him. God loves usover and above what we do and achieve. However, the call to holiness asks us to take a journey with Jesus that will bring us to higher levels of knowing God, which will deepen our understanding of our faith and relationship with Him.

Very few people attain the depth of knowledge of God necessary toproduce a text such as the one we read today, simply because most people are not willing to surrender control of their lives to the Lord. Most of us are too scared to let go for fear of what God will ask of us. The joy of the saints is that they did not care what God asked of them, only that they would be allowed to stay in His presence and be as close as possible to Him. This is one of the secrets of the saints — letting go of their own agenda. We simply leave it all up to God and that ought to be sufficient for us.

Letting go of our cherished dreams is never easy, but this is what discipleship demands of us. Letting go and handing control of our lives toGod is the stuff that saints are made of.

Do you want to be a saint? This may seem to be an easy question to answer, but if the answer is yes, the ramifications are very far-reachingindeed. Fr. Steve Tynan, MGL

 

REFLECTION QUESTIONS: Do you want to become a saint? Are you willing to pay the price of sainthood?

Father, help me to believe that Your love is enough for me and that I need nothing else other than Your love. Help me to embrace whatever is Your call for my life

The Patron Saints of Embarrassment

From http://catholicexchange.com/the-patron-saints-of-embarrassmen
By Michele Chronister
Imagine that there’s this Pope who has a habit of saying and doing somewhat embarrassing things. When he opens his mouth, everyone cringes in anticipation of what words will spill out. He comes from a humble past and a humble place and is a humble man – but sometimes, what he says and does is just plain embarrassing.
No, I’m not talking about our beloved Francis. I’m talking about one of his predecessors, the ever bumbling Peter.St. Peter is one of my favorite people in the Gospels. There are so many awkward “Peter moments,” the time that he suggests building tents when confronted with the awe and wonder of the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:4) being my personal favorite. When confronted with the majesty of Christ’s divinity, he responds not with reverent silence (as James and John do), but with an awkward suggestion.

Sometimes, what comes out of Peter’s mouth is more than embarrassing, but false. One of the most cringe-worthy moments in the Gospels is when he tries to insist that Jesus not suffer and die, and Jesus harshly rebukes him (Matthew 16:22-23). Can’t Peter sense when it is best not to speak?

Then, of course, there is Peter’s insistence that he won’t betray Christ (Matthew 26:35) only to deny him three times later that night (Matthew 26:74-75). This is not a mere embarrassment. It is an utter failure on Peter’s part.

There are many times when Peter opens his mouth and makes a fool of himself. But, his willingness to speak up for what he believes to be true – especially when no one else will – is also his greatest strength. Peter is the first Apostle to express faith in Christ’s divinity (Matthew 16:15-17). Although he is the one who denies Jesus, he is also the one who later re-affirms his love for Christ (John 21:17-18). And it is he who Jesus chooses to be the first head of the Church.

There is virtue in being willing to say what needs to be said, in any circumstance, despite the risk of sounding foolish. Recently, I attended an adult education class at our parish. I have a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in theology, but when it came time to answer the questions that the speaker asked – I froze. I didn’t want to give the wrong answer, even if I had a good answer to give. The speaker, a fellow professor at the seminary my husband teaches at, is an incredibly kind and humble man and certainly wouldn’t have judged me if I gave the wrong answer. It was simply my own pride that stood in the way. I was not humble enough to give an answer if I wasn’t sure if it was the right answer.

Yes, Peter may sound foolish at times, but his willingness to speak the truth in humility enables him to speak the truth. He doesn’t worry about having the perfect words, but rather about saying the words that God is calling him to say. The Peter we encounter in the Acts of the Apostles demonstrates what this kind of humility looks like, when coupled with wisdom from the Holy Spirit. Humility is a powerful thing.

As a perfect partner for Peter, we celebrate the feast of St. Paul on the same day. If Peter is the patron saint of speaking in humility, Paul is certainly the patron saint of acting in humility. Paul begins his missionary work at a disadvantage. He has a history of persecuting the Church, and he has to convince the early Christians that he is now committed to the cause of Christ. In both the Acts of the Apostles and in his Epistles, we see Paul acting in great humility, to demonstrate his love for God’s people.

I think the most beautiful example of this is found in Paul’s 2nd Letter to the Corinthians. He admits to the church of Corinth that he is suffering and struggling with an unnamed weakness, a “thorn in his side.” He explains that he has begged God to remove this weakness from his life. Rather than removing it, God answers Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul joyfully accepts this answer and affirms, “For whenever I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) Paul accepts that God can work through his imperfections.

Peter and Paul, both great men in the Church, remind us of the power of humility. If we long for holiness, then we must long for humility. We must be willing to say and do things that may confuse or be misunderstood by the world around us. It is only in humility that we will discover the gift of fortitude, to do what is right even when it may be difficult.

A saint is not foolish, but he must be willing to be a fool for Christ.

St. Peter and St. Paul, pray for us.

ARE YOU JADED IN YOUR FAITH?

SCRIPTURE READINGS: GN 18:1-15MT 8:5-17

Many of us are jaded in our faith.  We could be attending daily mass, praying the Office and involved in Church activities, yet we feel that God is so far away.  Quite often, we do not know whether He is real, whether He truly cares and loves us.

Why are we jaded?  This happens when we become sterile in our faith.  It could be due to our disappointment with God for not fulfilling His promises.  Or it could be that we feel He does not care.  For most of us, we have become ritualistic in the practice of the faith, fulfilling obligations out of fear or simply a duty that we must do.  Routine practice of the faith kills our dynamic relationship with God.  All of us are tempted to be contented with a perfunctory observance of the faith, whether in prayer or even when participating in the liturgy, Mass or Divine Office. Being jaded in the faith will also affect our interpersonal relationships.

In today’s first reading, Sarah was jaded too.  She was losing patience with God, after waiting so long for a child, and had apparently lost hope of the promise ever being fulfilled.  She became cynical that such a thing could happen at all. In a nutshell, she had lost faith in God. This was certainly the case with the Jewish religious leaders as well.  Instead of actively searching for the arrival of the Messiah, they were more contented with preserving the institutions, especially the religious practices, rather than focusing on their relationship with God.

This was not the case with Abram however.  He never lost faith in God. On the contrary, he was always alert to the visitation of the Lord.  So when the Lord came in the form of three men, he immediately invited them to his house and gave them a warm hospitality, making them feel comfortable and providing them with a sumptuous meal.  He recognized them as coming from the Lord.  As a consequence, he was reassured by them that the Lord would fulfill His promise of posterity to by giving him a child borne of Sarah.

Similarly, the people during the time of Jesus, except the Jewish leaders ironically, saw Him as the visitation of God. In Jesus, they saw the love and compassion of the Father.  He was one of compassion and mercy, reflecting the tender love of the Father as encountered by Moses when God revealed Himself as “The Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.” (Exodus 34:6)  In the healing ministry of Jesus, we read how Jesus welcomed and healed all the sick.  Besides restoring Peter’s mother-in-law back to health, he “cast out the spirits with a word and cured all who were sick.”  The evangelist considered the work of Jesus as the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah, “He took our sicknesses away and carried our diseases for us. (cf. Isa 53:4)

However, none could match the faith of the Centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant who was sick and most probably dying.  Although a pagan and a non-Jew and someone with authority, he humbled himself to approach Jesus. So great was his faith in Jesus’ authority to heal that when Jesus wanted to go to his house to cure his servant, he told Jesus, “Sir, I am not worthy to have you under my roof; just give the word and my servant will be cured.”  The centurion counted himself unworthy for a Jew, and especially for a prophet of God, to enter his house.  He had such great confidence in Jesus’ healing power to heal merely by His word and command.  In other words, he confessed in Jesus as being truly from God, since God’s word is always efficacious.

Yes, if we want to encounter the Lord, we must not under-estimate the power of the Lord and His mercy for us.  The Lord is challenging us as He did with Sarah when she was cynical about the power of God.  She was laughing at the prospect of her giving birth in her old age.  Yes, throughout the scriptures, the Lord said the same thing over and over again.  The Lord assured Moses of His assistance when they were fighting with their enemies.  He said, “Is the Lord’s arm too short? You will now see whether or not what I say will come true for you.” (Nm 11:3)  Similarly, Isaiah reassured his people, “Behold the hand of the Lord is not shortened that it cannot save, neither is his ear heavy that it cannot hear.” (Isa 50:259:1)  Truly, to those who have faith nothing is impossible!

Indeed, this is the kind of living faith that is required of us.  Faith in Christ and recognition of Him as the visitation of God brings healing in us.  With this faith, God will come to live in our hearts.  Isn’t this our experience at Mass during the communion rite when we say, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”?  How great is our God who not only wants to heal us but to live in us!

With faith too, we see the Lord visiting us in the doctors, friends and in the events of our daily life.  God is always visiting us through our fellowmen.  The real problem is that we fail to see God working in and through people whom we encounter each day.  Everyone is a potential instrument of God’s visitation.  And everyone is equally a recipient of His visit to us.  But without faith, we cannot see the ordinary and sometimes even the extra-ordinary events in life when God comes to affirm us of His love and mercy for Him.  So we must never think that God has not visited us each day; it is rather because we fail to recognize Him coming to us – as a friend who encourages and advises us; our family members and loved ones who give us His love and intimacy; our fellow colleagues who challenge us to grow and realize our potential; and even our enemies, including impersonal ones, such as illnesses, misfortunes and misunderstandings, to purify our love and strengthen our faith in Him.

Remember the story about the man who claimed to have faith in God but was unable to recognize Him when God came to save him?  Caught in a flood, he prayed fervently to God to save him.  God sent a boatman to rescue him, but he refused, saying that God would come to rescue him.  Then as the level of the flood grew higher, he climbed to the top of his roof.  This time God sent a helicopter to rescue him, but he declined, because he was waiting for God to rescue him.  As a result, he drowned.  Upon seeing God, he complained to Him that He did not save him. God reprimanded him instead for rejecting His help that came through the various people He sent to help him.

Indeed, the Lord comes to us in so many ways, through nature, persons, and events and in our daily activities.  Do you have the eyes of faith to recognize His coming, the same eyes that enabled Abram, the prophets and the centurion to see Him? If we find our faith lacking, it is because we have a fixated mind, like the Jewish leaders who were simply too proud or too cowardly, to allow God to surprise us.  So let us keep ourselves alert to the visitation of God by not simply reading the scriptures but to read it anew from different perspectives; and to keep ourselves connected with Jesus through our personal relationship with Him in prayer and worship.


Written by The Most Rev William Goh
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
© All Rights Reserved
 
 

Perspectives on Fear

We might avoid evil because of fear, but fear might also prevent us from doing good. –@CardinalChito

Violence is motivated by fear; individualism is a manifestation of fear. –@CardinalChito

When fear runs our lifestyle, it makes us numb. –@CardinalChito

One impulse of fear is self-preservation. When this becomes a lifestyle, fear is making us self-centered. –@CardinalChito

Jesus responds to fear simply by saying, “It is I. Do not be afraid.” –@CardinalChito

The more prayerful you are, the more sensitive you are to the needs of others. –@CardinalChito

When you’re convinced that Jesus is near, the problems remain but you’ll have more courage rather than paralyzing fear. –@CardinalChito

We can rest knowing that as we are tossed here and there, Someone sees us. Jesus is our compassionate brother. –@CardinalChito

We go beyond fear through faith. –@CardinalChito

The compassion of Jesus gathers people. Fear scatters people. –@CardinalChito

When a society is governed by fear, compassion disappears. –@CardinalChito

Instinctive compassion is prevented from blossoming because of our fear. –@CardinalChito

When we enter the heart of Jesus, miracles happen. The secret of Jesus is compassion. Have no fear. –@CardinalChito

With faith and compassion, we can go beyond fear. – @CardinalChito

Fear can lead to a denial of Jesus. But, the Risen Lord extended love, mercy, and compassion. –@CardinalChito

There is no room for fear if there is love. Love conquers fear.@CardinalChito

In the Bible, the opposite of fear is not courage… It is love! –@CardinalChito