Saturday, January 25, 2014

I'm Leaving too?

“In the battle of life, it is not the critic who counts; nor the one who points out how the strong person stumbled, or where the doer of a deed could have done better.  The credit belongs to the person who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who does actually strive to do deeds, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotion, spends oneself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at worst, if he or she fails, at least fails while daring greatly.  Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those timid spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live the gray twilight that knows neither victory or defeat.”

While this quote from Teddy Roosevelt was given to encourage American exceptionalism and resolve, it can also reflect the life of the Christian disciple. And those who Jesus first called would for the most of them find this to be very true. There was little gray in those days when it came to His teachings. Jesus did not give much middle ground.  As he would say one is either with him or not.  And far from perfect, this group of fishermen and members of small communities based on fishing, agriculture, or small businesses and trades just left it all to follow him.  Radical to say the least.

How often we have heard this gospel in either Mathew, Mark or Luke.  Fr. James Martin gives a good description and sets the scene…  He says the story is almost shocking, for how could four fisherman walk away from everything-their jobs, families, entire way of life-to follow a carpenter?  To leave the comforts of home? They knew the scriptures and could have been waiting…Perhaps Jesus had been there for a while and they heard about him.  And what he says to them; I will make you fishers of men!  (by the way the Greek word is anthropoi, meaning people)  Either they though he was a total madman or his humor attracted them.  But their profession was already a prerequisite to their new vocation….  Fisherman are patient, and go out whenever the fish are near.  But Jesus also drew people to himself. Think of charismatic people…John Paul II or Mother Teresa.  Even if one is not religious they are drawn to them; we are drawn to them. 

Jesus left his own home of Nazareth to move to a place where many non-Jews gathered.  A reminder that the gospel must be preached everywhere.  The true teachings of Jesus; peace, justice, and new life though repentance and forgiveness can be offered to our world today; to believers and non alike. For example, protection of life in the womb is NOT solely a religious teaching!  Even atheists and followers of most world religions value human life. Some even better than us professed Catholic Christians at times. They have made a decision to stand for what is scientifically proven and morally right. Most folks do not like killing other human beings, if we would only follow that idea throughout a person’s entire life; whenever their life is threatened by death due to poverty, starvation, sickness, and abandonment.

So now it is our turn.  To decide to follow Jesus.  What need we leave behind? Just our fears.  We can see it as an adventure, going into new territories right here in our communities….by journeying to all of Jesus teachings….about life, poverty, war and peace, and our care for what God has entrusted to us all.  This Saturday past we celebrated the conversion of St. Paul.  He too left his old ways, his old home and went out to live Christ.  For us, to perhaps take a few steps outside our own homes to witness the homes of others?  Meaning the lives and experiences of others….Could be a little scary but we now have Jesus to lead us and to support us in what we say and do. Just being real and total Catholics. To invite into our lives the gifts of the fisherman….patience, and a readiness to be there when needed. To leave the comforts of home. 


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