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This gospel comes to my mind when I fish. “Please Lord, tell me what fly to use, and where to cast!” I have yet to hear a definitive answer.
Clearly though, this is not about how to fish; the readings, all three, are about a calling.
But NOT about simply a call to serve the Lord as as religious, or in a specific service. It is a calling that is much more profound and deeper.
The calling is to find a deeper and more profound way of life.
It is a calling to experience SALVATION!!!
Salvation is the freedom to be those children of God, which we are created to be.
Salvation is the freedom to be engaged and connected with others, and have meaningful relationships, to build community.
Salvation is the freedom to make positive, good choices that help others.
Yet, we let our mistakes hold us back. We let our egos and arrogance keep us from trying new ways. We let our fears keep us from growing.
I have seen it in my own life, I have heard it in many others: “Oh, Father, I can’t do that! I am not worthy.” “No, I know what I need, and this is the way I am going to do it, and I can do it all by myself!” “What I did in my past is unforgivable, I am so ashamed.”
These, and the similar phrases and thoughts, are all too common and in a sense antithetical to Jesus Christ.
They deny the whole meaning of the birth, life, death and resurrection which is all about our salvation; which are about God’s infinite love and mercy for every human person that has ever been, is now and ever shall be!
Look at Isaiah, thinking himself unworthy, and God changed that.
Paul, the great persecutor of the church, experiences conversion to becomes its greatest promoter.
Peter, the man who thought he knew how to fish, yet caught nada. At least is willing to listen, and catches more than he could have ever imagined.
Where are we?
Jesus Christ comes to save us; really not from sin, but from ourselves. Save us from these small minds, those attitudes that cripple us in life and end up crippling others too.
He has given us the way to be transformed in this life. He has given us the way to be better connected to others. He has given us the way to be free.
We can sit and complain about this and that; be mad at the world, the church, the country, our family because they will not do what we think they need to do…or We can be humble and be open to different ways. We can let go of our need to control, our egos, and fish from the other side and actually find joy.
We can play the false humility role, we can play the victim our whole lives and say I am not worthy, poor me, and spread misery…
or we can accept the reality that we all are children of God, worthy of love and spread Joy.
We can let our past mistakes dominate us and control us, and shame us into submission…or we can accept the forgiveness and mercy of the Cross and experience a future of life.
This is the calling of Jesus Christ. This is the will of God, that we experience that Joy, that Life, Salvation.
What side of the boat are we fishing from?
It was kind of one of those DUHHHHH moments more me….!
or vice versa?
Connections, they are critical.
A few weeks ago, Fr. Greg Boyle gave a powerful address about his work with gangs in LA; and how by forming connections, or kinship, gang members were able to quit the violence and begin to make a life for themselves.
Earlier this week, I watched a provocative TED talk on addiction. The speaker’s belief is that a majority of addiction problems start and are ongoing because of the lack of connection in people’s lives.
Connections: we are made for connections. REAL connections.
God is a connection: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, so the very nature of God’s identity is formed in the connections.
And we, who are made in God’s own image, find ourselves when we are connected to others.
Our Scripture today is about connection.
The first reading, takes place after the Jews had been restored back to the Land after the Babylonian exile. Jerusalem now rebuilt, and they are read aloud the Torah.
The people’s reaction? They didn’t complain that it was longer than 50 minutes. They did not leave early so as to avoid crowds in the parking lot.
The people rejoiced. There were tears of happiness!
Why? The Torah is about covenant and connection. God was with the people he had chosen; God loves them and is with them. The people rejoice at this Good News.
Jesus proclaims to people that Isaiah the prophets’ text. God is with the poor, the sick, the blind, the captive. God is connected to those people who are enslaved by the hardships of life.Jesus is the living connection of God to all of humanity.
And our response????
When we contemplate this passage from Luke, and we place into context everything that Jesus said and did…I would hope we find JOY.
See, the Divine is not out to get us, nor is interested in punishing us. God wants us to connect with Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Note, it does not say that people are connected to God once they do this, that or another thing.
GOD has made connection already, we need to open ourselves to it.
Jesus Christ, is God personally coming into each of our lives, in each of our situation, and is with us.
This reveals that we have dignity, we have worth; it does not matter whether, sick or healthy, rich or poor, incarcerated or not; God sees our value and wants that value to shine.
When we accept this…there will be true JOY in our lives.
Then, the Holy Spirit will start messing with us; because once we accept that reality of our own value, we cannot but help to accept that all people have the same worth;
And then we will also want to respond by treating others accordingly.
Imagine what would happen if we treated others as true Children of God?
Imagine if we went out of this church and started to connected with others, especially those in most need of hearing this good news.
I bet the violence we have seen in recent months in our area would diminish. I bet the number teen violence, suicides would decrease. I bet the number of abortions would be reduced. I bet that poverty would be assuaged.
There would be way fewer lonely persons Way fewer elderly left alone in homes and nursing homes. Less gossip, less lies, Less porn…
More community, more unity, more freedoms, more people in these empty pews, more people people living out fulfilling marriages, more people cared for as they come to the end of their lives; more babies being born!
All because we have opened ourselves to the true reality God, Father Son, and Holy Spirit is connected to us. And is with us in our lives.
Are we responding?