22 Jan 2017: Come Follow Me!

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3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Reading 1: Is. 8: 23-9:8; Ps. 27: 1-4 & 13-14; Reading 2:  Cor. 1: 10-13 &17; Gospel: 4: 12-23

Our Holy Father, since becoming Pope, recounts the story of his own vocation saying that, on September 21, 1953, a 16-year-old boy named Jorge Bergoglio was planning to go out to celebrate with friends an Argentinian national holiday called “Students’ Day.” Jorge decided to start the holiday by going to pray at his parish church, dedicated to St. Joseph. When he arrived at church, he saw a priest he didn’t recognize, but who seemed to radiate holiness. He decided to approach him, and asked him to hear his confession. We don’t know what Jorge said to the priest, or what the priest said in response. But we do know that, that confession totally changed not only the teenager’s plans for the day, but for the whole course of his life. In speaking to a group of ecclesial movements during the Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis said:

For me, this was an experience of encounter: I found that someone was waiting for me. Yet, I do not know what happened. I can’t remember. I do not know why that particular priest was there, whom I did not know, or why I felt this desire to confess. But the truth is that someone was waiting for me. He had been waiting for me for some time. After making my confession, I felt something had changed. I was not the same. I had heard something like a voice or a call. I was convinced that I should become a priest.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus called Simon Peter, and his brother Andrew, as well as James and John, the sons of Zebedee, to follow Him. His invitation to them was a simple one: “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They left everything behind, and followed Jesus. No hesitation, no questions, no doubts—just a firm resolution to be a disciple of Jesus. For three years, they would accompany Jesus, hearing him preaching and teaching, healing and exorcising, and calling people to repentance. The disciples would have much to learn, but they were ready. They were ordinary men with no special training or skill, but yet, the Lord called them.

As we reflect on the call in today’s Gospel, we might well ask ourselves: what would I have done? What would I do? To leave everything behind is no easy task, but Jesus taught by example. With those he called, he would always provide for their needs. It’s a call to let go, and to be self-possessed. How often do the things of the world possess us, and bring us down.

Jorge Bergoglio encountered the Lord Jesus, and responded wholeheartedly to the call to the Priesthood. The Lord continues to call because the harvest is rich, but the laborers are few. How many people silence the call with theirown pursuits? We must open our hearts to the Lord by entering into silence, and like Samuel, say: “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” What is the Lord calling us to? For all of us, first and foremost, He is calling us to a life of holiness. When we are rooted in God, we are more open and docile to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Some are called to the Priesthood, or Consecrated Life, others to marriage, still others to a single life … all different, yet they are all calls to holiness. We all have a part to play in establishing the Kingdom of God, and continuing the work of those who have gone before us. Like Pope Francis, we have the same means before us, especially the sacraments, to help us to grow in holiness so that, one day, we might enter eternal life.

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