[5th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C, 7 Feb 2016 / Isa 6:1-2a, 3-8 / Ps 138:1-2a, 2b-3, 4-5, 7-8 / 1 Cor 15:1-11 / |Luke 5:1-11]
WHAT do you think the call of God is like? Today Jesus calls Peter the fisherman to leave his nets behind and follow him. St Paul tells us of his calling too and the Lord calls Isaiah asking, “Who will go? Who will tell them?” Do you know that actually God calls EVERY ONE OF US! The most important thing you can do in this short life (and hurry because there is not much time) is to discover the call for you. How old are you now? Have you discovered it yet? St Thérèse of the Child Jesus discovered it at only 15. Sometimes we think we have all the time in the world but she died at 24. By then she had not only understood her calling but lived it to the full. So much so that when she was canonized she was called “the greatest of modern Saints.”
We are only on earth for one reason and no other. To answer the call of Christ. Everything else is secondary. When I say secondary, I mean it is not so important. What is happening in your favorite TV show, the headlines in the newspaper, the things you have to do…don’t get side-tracked. Stay focused. Why are you so easily distracted? If you had all the time in the world then you can dilly- dally but you don’t.
I remember when I was 29, my birthday, and listening to a song by U2 called “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.” Do you know what I realized right then, in a moment of grace? That I didn’t know what my life was for and if I didn’t wake up I would be listening to the same song when I was 69. Realize this and you will save a lot of wasted energy – God is calling you. Period. Now try to discover what the calling is.
The biggest misconception is the idea that the calling is to be only a priest or a nun. Wrong! I can even be a priest (and I am!) but it does not mean that I am responding to God’s call. A priest is the state of life that God calls one to but as a priest, one has to try to be faithful to that calling each day. That is why we have to pray! If I don’t pray how can I listen to what God wants? If your cell phone is switched off you cannot receive calls. If our hearts are switched off then we cannot listen to the call of God either.
What is the call of God like? Once we had a first Mass of a newly ordained priest. He talked of the need to share our talents and gifts especially with those most in need. One man listening to the homily came up and asked how he could help our mission. He was the owner of a pharmaceutical company and wanted to give some medicines to the poor. Now this is the calling of God! Later he was asking me about my vocation story. He was surprised that I was a doctor before and now a missionary priest. When he told me that I was answering the call he didn’t realize that God was calling him too!
Here in the Philippines there would be less poor if the many rich were prompter to respond to God’s call to reach out and share. As my father always reminded me “If we do not love the poor we will never enter the Kingdom.” How easy to ignore this calling of God! God still calls but many times we do not want to listen. Often we believe the Lord will take something away but as Jesus himself told us “I have not come to steal, kill or destroy. I have come to give you life, life in all its fullness.”
How beautiful the testimony of those Christians who are sensitive to the call of God, those for whom God’s word does not fall on deaf ears but on good soil. We should not remain hardhearted in front of the Lord’s pleading to build up a more just world. Sometimes we can be hesitant to follow what God wants. We know but we doubt, we feel timid. But the Lord is very patient with us. He does not push us, or violate our freedom. In the Gospel of today Jesus enters the boat of the fishermen and asks them to put out a short distance from the shore. They follow and then Jesus asks, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” What is the deep water that Christ is asking you to enter? Often it involves a risk, a leap of faith. Peter tells Jesus, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.” Peter responds to the call of Jesus and catches such a great number of fish that the nets were tearing. What a dream come true for the fishermen.
Responding to his call is the best way to enjoy this short life. What are you waiting for? Follow him! Don’t miss the boat! Respond while you still have time. Amen.