3RD SUNDAY B 2012
Last Sunday we heard God call: “Samuel. Samuel”. Again this liturgy presents us with the invitation to listen and respond. There are many voices calling each of us to follow this direction or that, this style or that fashion. We pray for the sense of what is the voice that leads to life. Which voice is the voice of God? We realize the need for discernment for rarely is the voice one of an esoteric religious experience. Most often God’s voice can be confused with the voice of the old man, Eli, in the next room.
All three of this Sunday’s readings present an urgent call. Jonah tells the people of
Jonah is represented as the epitome of Jewish bigotry and prejudice regarding foreigners. The fictional Jonah wanted that pagan city destroyed, yet he was a medium of grace through which the Ninevites recognized their need for repentance and were saved. His mission proved successful not because of his own virtue, but by virtue of God’s universal mercy.
Paul, unlike Jonah, by his word and by the good example of his own continuous turning to God, inspired many in
Jesus calls his first disciples, Simon and Andrew, James and John. Of all the images he could have chosen — evangelist, teacher, preacher, social activist, reformer, builder, farmer and so on — Jesus chose the image of fishing. Obviously this was a profession familiar to those he called to follow him, but there are many good lessons that any disciple might learn from someone who fishes for a living.
Regardless of whether she fishes with a net or a pole or with lures, the fisher must go to where the fish are and offer them something that will entice them to take the bait. Disciples, too, can be more effective when they are willing to venture into those public and private places where people live their lives.
Another lesson disciples might learn from fishers is to work without discriminating as to the worthiness of others. There is no sign at the end of a fishing line that says “Spring Salmon only,” nor can disciples have any prejudice as they follow their commission to go out to the entire world and tell the good news of salvation.
Those who fish successfully are also quite persistent. They will bait the hook again and again, cast the line many times and lower the nets for as long as it takes for the fish to come. Along with their persistence, they have cultivated the fine art of waiting. Fishers of people are also called to be persistent in their efforts.
So there are two invitations today. One is the call to personal and community conversion from sin to virtue. The other is the call of the apostles; the call to discipleship; respond to your vocation in life. A career is a job, an occupation you current have, but a vocation is something that you are.
Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko was a young priest of the Archdiocese of Warsaw. He had a frail voice and physically weak. He had not been a brilliant seminarian. His first assignment was to be an assistant priest at Parish in
The people heard, but so did their communist leaders. On
In the course of a lifetime, modern people hold many jobs. A young girl may begin as an aide in a day care. Then she may become an Early Childhood teacher. After a while, she may change professions and become a department manager in a store. Maybe, she may go into investing and become a financial consultant. People have many jobs, many careers. But this is not who they are, it is something they are currently doing.
A vocation is something that we are. That same girl may become a wife and then a mother. Wife and mother are not jobs, they are who she is. They are vocations. Even when her children move out to begin independent lives, she is still a mother, their mother. Priesthood is not a career that can be changed as some other man might change jobs. A person who is called to the priesthood is a priest forever, even if he no longer is in ministry.
When Jesus called Simon and Andrew, James and John, you and me, He did not call us to do something. He called us to be something. He called us to be disciples. That is why we feel so disjointed when our human limitations take over and we give in to evil. We lose our sincerity, our integrity, when what we do is opposed to whom we are.
People who are determined to live the truth of which they are, people who are determined to live vocationally, are the most dynamic force in history. Their lives don’t just become history; they become His Story, the story of God at work in the world. And that is what Catholicism is about. We want to change the world into God’s world. We are willing to do what we need to do to be who we have been called to be.