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From her poverty, she shared

This anonymous parishioner’s touching note is the poor widow’s version of St. Christopher. Although a dime, nickel or quarter would have worked perfectly fine. Every $$$ counts…From her heart, she gave…she could have spent this for food, bills to pay,  and placing ourselves in her shoes…for shopping…for vain things…for unnecessary stuff regretfully spent…But no, she dipped into her wallet and inscribed “Heartily given by a poor parishioner”…possessions are the last things we tend to give up…but the moment we do…it’s a different story…

As always, God bless!

 

BILLY BOY

For 19 years now, in the days leading up to Nov. 5, my father’s death anniversary, it’s been nothing out of the ordinary grieving moment. The framed picture on the wall and the wallet size photo bring out memories of distant past. As I once again reminisce the olden days as far back I can recall, guess if anything deserves any mention, he loved us so much and left us a good example. I knew I could have done something to  prevent the unpredictable. And yet, we’re just mere mortals whose lives are dependent on something beyond us. When he started going downhill, all he wanted to do was to see his kids. I asked for a few days off from the seminary and delighted that my request…granted.

My father was soft-spoken, joker with a wonderful sense of humor, sometimes annoying   (in grade school waking me up for school) and yep, friendly. I’m not sure how these qualities fit together in one persona but that’s who he was. He had lots of friends, some incredibly good and others bad that I screamed (until my voice ran out)…he’s not here…get out! …as soon as their shadows appeared at the doorsteps. He knew how to get along with folks from all walks of life. At the reunion attended last August in Pasadena, it was a pleasant surprise when at least 5 people I’ve met told me they knew him either as classmate or drinking buddy. Thank God none of them said he was my everything. Until now, there are many things that remain unknown to me but every time  I go back and forth into the throng of people at his wake all the way to the graveside  and beyond, I’m relieved as it explains everything about him.

All the while, I didn’t think it was God’s plan/will for him to die. That premise is simply hard to accept and won’t sink in to someone in the middle of a terrible loss. I thought he was out of the equation and uninvolved in the state of affairs. If he did, he would have done something miraculous. Forgive me Holy Mother Church if I go off tracks. I’m sounding like Job in perspective – the human experience of pain and suffering as the ground/bridge/hub of our relationship with God.  For my mom, it was certainly a pain beyond anything she could imagine. While I admire the spiritual-religious people coming up with an inspiring thought- it’s God’s plan period…there’s nothing you can do about it…move on, I’m not one of them. It takes time to process anything like this. Paul’s words in today’s readings was such a relief as it resonates reassurance, “Whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s”. If ever I have a dream, I wish he’s still alive simply to enjoy his retirement with the love of his life and play like a fool with his grandkids. Amen.

All Saints

At the 10:30am Mass yesterday, we processed with a few kids dressed in elaborate saint’s costume along with the catechists. During the homily, I started with the story some of my friends including strangers often asked about the number of those attending Sunday Masses. I usually say roughly between two to three thousand and of course, they grinned. I don’t mind the laughter but in the Mass, we join with the company of Angels and Saints in heaven…”And so, we glorify you with the multitude of Saints and Angels , as with one voice of praise we acclaim…Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Hosts…We are surrounded by a Cloud of Witnesses (Heb. 12:1)” We’re never alone…We worship with the gallery of the holy ones, with all the faithful who entered this tiny, humble, easily ignored, 200 capacity church.

The carved statues of Saints and the stained glass window of our very own St. Christopher at the west side of the church are powerful symbols of their presence with us. The invisible is the most real. Their images are windows to divine realities. They are our friends. In our joys and sorrows, successes and failures, even in our laughter mostly at the announcement period, they are one with us interceding for God.

RE kids and the catechists came up front and introduced their saints. I admire the catechists for leading by example. We’ll do it again. I don’t know what came to my mind but I shouldn’t have said this. I happened to ask one of the kids which costume does he like better, Halloween or Saints? Guess what? It wasn’t the answer I expected to hear…from the mouth of babes…wrong question…Thank God I avoided a 2nd try…I’ll be careful next time…

 

All Saints is a special day honoring the canonized, the official, the known as well as the unknown whose lives have been singlehandedly devoted to Christ perhaps members of our families, relatives and friends who didn’t simply teach us and left us inspiring words but showed us the example of Christian life, the stuff of Christianity. Often we make excuses. We put them in the pedestal and convince ourselves there’s no way we can be like them as they existed at a stage in history unfamiliar and detached to many of us. But, it’s the same scenario. Saints rise at difficult times. They step up to the plate and respond to the religious and spiritual needs of their times. That’s  exactly what we need…the X factors.

After my last mass at Our Mother of Sorrows Church before heading out to St. James in Coolidge, a woman whose name I can’t remember hugged me and whispered, ‘you will be a blessing everywhere you go.’ That simple, saintly gesture stuck with me. Amen.

Second Sunday of Lent

As the first reading last week laid out sin and its ramifications with a dramatic demonstration of the creation of man formed out of the clay of the ground, cuddled like a newborn in the exotic- worry- free life of the garden of Eden all expenses paid bringing heaven on earth, only to be tempted by the cunning serpent and succumbed, yielded shame, brought death and eventually, banished from paradise.

The Book of Genesis is divided into two major parts. Chapters 1-11 treats the history of the origins of humanity while chapters 12-50, the history of the patriarchs-the forefathers-the ones who introduced us to faith. The beginning of chapter 12 of Genesis presents the call of Abram as one of the best known themes in the Old Testament often described as a pivotal stage in salvation history that lays down a new and fresh start in the unfolding of God’s redemption. It provides an important contrast, call it panacea, an intimate connection with the happy fault brought to us by Adam and Eve after having thrown out of the lush garden of Eden.  

En aquellos días, dijo el Señor a Abram: “Deja tu país, a tu parentela y la casa de tu padre, para ir la tierra que yo te mostraré. Haré nacer de ti un gran pueblo y te bendeciré. Engrandeceré tu nombre y tú mismo serás una bendición. Bendeciré a los que te bendigan, maldeciré a los que te maldigan. En ti serán bendecidos todos los pueblos de la tierra”. Abram partió como se lo había  ordenado el Señor (Génesis 12, 1-4).

God initiated the move. He spoke to a fallen and condemned humanity through Abram, an heir of Adam, a descendant of Noah and a son of Terah, a Shemite, and asked him to leave the land of his kinsfolk and go to the land that God will show him. He was 75 years old by the time he received the news. Many of us would probably freak out upon hearing it. Not me, ask someone else. I’m too old. I’ve done my job raising a family and let me enjoy the remaining years of my life and do what I want while I’m healthy. By then, he was retired and settled in a retirement community in Tucson. Perhaps, his day started with a morning coffee and spent the rest playing golf or sit around waiting for the roll call from heaven. It was an unsettling news, an arresting fact. There was no adequate explanation behind all this and yet the written word can attest as the case may be that he was called not because of who he was. St. Paul nailed it in the second reading, “He saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our works but according to his own design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began…” (2 Tim 1:9). It was simply God’s choice. We can imagine the trouble, the pressure, the suffering he went through the cumbersome process of discernment, carefully weighed options as if it were a matter of life and death, to go or not to go was the problem, up to the time he arrived at a decision that rapidly changed the course of his life for better and forever, “Bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God” (2 Tim. 1:8b). Though we have yet to receive an answer why Abram and not someone gifted and deserving enough to lead a holy life, doing so would be a foolish thing to do. Crazy how it goes. For the time being, me dío la cuenta, now I understand why Revelation and Faith was the first course offered in Theology.

Abram went as the Lord had directed him without a google map, no GPS, not even a traveler’s guide, that would equip him on the road to the Land of Canaan believing the promises made would take place in the present life. Armed with nothing but an unconditional faith in God’s promises, placing his life solely in his hands, relying completely in his providence, leaving everything behind to God on the account of his earth- shattering, shocking invitation, he left Haran, Mesopotamia, the land where his father Terah (Gen. 11:27-32) migrated from Ur of the Chaldeans and settled there with his family along with Abram. Leaving your homeland, the stuff of life in the ancients was like losing one’s identity, the sense of comfort and added security. It was irresistible, though. No doubt he was consumed with anxiety. It came to him like a razor’s edge, cutting his life in half. It actually did. But he held on to God’s word handed down in a lovely display of repetitions: I will show you a land…I will make you a great nation…I will bless you. His decision to accept God’s invitation left us with lots to ponder, fueled by something hard to explain. For a lack of better term, let’s fairly call it faith…

As a hall of Famer in the sacred writings, we have given Abram, the nickname “Father in Faith” for his exemplary obedience allowing God to break in, to intervene in his personal affairs even at a later stage in life.  Faith is God’s work in the world, not ours. It is not the result of our individual and collective efforts, however tremendous and tireless. Because of humankind’s phenomenal achievements and granted all the success, the biggest mistake ministers of God, myself included, commit is putting themselves at the center of it all as if there’s no invisible reality running the show: mission, ministry, faith to anything they do and push God on the sidelines, reduce his role merely as a paramedic, needed in case of emergency, and has no real part in the religious enterprise, in the make up of God’s kingdom.

On the second sunday of lent, the Gospel always takes us up high on the mountaintop along with the three apostles Peter, James and John his brother (the inner circle, the magnificent three) for a lenten retreat to  catch a glimpse of the all-inspiring, transforming, astonishing ‘aha’ goose bumps moment and at the same time, scary (“When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid” Mt. 17: ) event of the transfiguration of Jesus appearing in dazzling glory bearing witness to his name leading us to believe in him as the Messiah letting us know that in spite of the impending passion, we’re asked to stay calm and remain faithful, he got it, all will come to pass “then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him” (Mt. 17:5).

Lent is a special time for parishes to organize retreats, penance services, stone soup, fish fry, offer opportunities for spiritual enrichment and religious engagement, encounter God more intimately in a transforming way led by the Gospel saying: “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him” (Mt. 17:5). Go, just go, God said, from your former way of life, be transfigured and listen closely to him for through him I will show you the way, make you my people and bless you with many more blessings. Amen.

8th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The first reading from Isaiah 49:14-15, only two short verses and yet express both a cry of lament and words of comfort that numerous songs have been composed about it. In the midst of chaos and desolation, almost similar to the on-going civil war in present-day Syria and Ukraine, the whole nation feels abandoned and forsaken. Time and again, I’m astonished by the courage of a priest in cassock seen and heard in news report holding a cross hearing confession risking his life in the line of scrimmage. God never forget his love. Towards the end, an amazing comparison is portrayed, the intimate bond between God and his people is shown in the love of a Mother to her child. It says that even if a Mother forgets the child of her flesh, highly unlikely but possible, I will never forget you.

Matthew 6:24-34 is a continuation of the Sermon on the Mount specifically addressed to the disciples which as in the previous verses takes on the matter of true discipleship. Its purpose is not to discourage them from doing nothing at all, resign from work, get sluggish, unproductive, passive, lazy and sloppy, constantly  anxious about anything taking the joy and juice out of life, sit down and watch TV and wait for subsidy but invite them to devote all their energies and abilities in the proclamation of the Reign of God. As in the second reading, Paul describes the community as “servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor. 4:1) sent to proclaim the Gospel. They are asked to put their confidence entirely to God, set their priorities straight and not spend their lives in useless anxieties not leaving room for fun as the pagans do, running it as if God, the supernatural, the extraordinary, the supreme being beyond the physical world, didn’t exist. 

The Gospel opens up with an admonition “No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon” (Mt. 6: 24). The word ‘mammon’ comes from an Aramaic word, transliterated as, ‘that in which one places trust’. It can mean many things but simply translated as money, possessions, wealth- down to the small things we hold so dear that almost identify and define us from cellphone, car, house, career/profession, membership in 700 club that can be an obstacle, a substitute, a replacement, an attachment to something which if left unchecked, will posses us, own us, even eat us alive and will eventually keep us from placing our trust in God. He moves on to illustrate in a lengthy discourse what ‘mammon’ promises to offer and that is, provide us with life’s basic necessities: food and drink, clothing, even more, a shelter that doesn’t simply have a roof over your head but a place you can call home giving you security and comfort.

“Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? Why are you anxious about clothes?  Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them”                     (Mt. 6:25-29). 

If God cared for them, how much more will he provide for you. To live according to nature is to go back to the first principle, that is, acknowledge the greatness and providence of God.  Look at the beauty of creation: the birds in the sky, the lilies, the ephemeral flowers and the grass of the field, the saguaro, the palo verde, the mesquite, the pine trees, the roses are red in the front lawn although there’s a designated person assigned for its maintenance, God makes it grow and sustains it. “If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?” (Mt. 6:30). Life is more than nourishment and clothing. Live and follow nature. If there’s any trouble, go back to the first principle that is, acknowledge the greatness and providence of God. As delightful and lovely as this passage is, it takes a toll on those who have trouble making both ends meet. By way of comparison, birds in the sky don’t get arrested for driving under the influence of some spirits, the lilies no deadening skyrocketing credit card bills to pay-mortgage, insurance, utilities, school tuition and the grass of the field no mouths to feed.

I can safely assume that 90% of us in the church will have a meal fixed, a drink that will keep us hydrated, a refreshing water or soda if not something else in the fridge and a shelter/place we can rest our head at night. But even if, we still worry about our lives, job security, health, economy, finances, retirement, education, family, relationships, the uncertainty of the future, our reputation (what people think about us). We worry about our faith making sure we are always in right relationship with God and the church. Sometimes going over the top, we are anxious about the over-all food consumption: the amount of calorie and the added sugar in the food labels for legitimate health reasons, weight, looks, figures, plans for the future, our problems and decisions that dominate our thoughts, even at Mass and prayer…

We worry about the political unrest across the globe, the rapidly growing number trapped in poverty – the plight of the poor- a staggering 1 billion folks not being able to provide for life’s basic necessities who live on less than US$2 a day, dwell in slums and spend the night in cardboard sheets in shanties that will take a phenomenal move to end the complex cycle of the great social divide. On another hand, if I may switch just a bit, we tend to be excessively concerned about useless things. More often than not, we spend our time and energy on something beyond our control that adds up to our headaches and stress resulting in an unhealthy life.

“So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all” (Mt. 6:31-32). 

With all the drama surrounding a text often misunderstood, regardless where you are in the economic scale, it’s music to the ears as Jesus once again gives us an assurance that all will be well…no se preocupen…todo esta bien…only if we re-orient, re- tune and re-align our basic need and understanding of life -God first and get rid of useless anxieties that take out the joy and grin in our lovely faces…And if we do this, if we place all our trust in God’s plan, an act we call faith, all the rest will fall into place. 

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for the day is its own evil” (Mt. 6:33-34). Amen. 

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings for the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Thus says the Lord” is quite a familiar phrase which usually appears at the beginning of a text but seen and heard, sounds less appealing mostly in quick reading. However, the mere fact that Isaiah starts off with what God says, he wants his hearers to know that the message comes from God and not his own. The Prophet powerfully presents one of the most perplexing moral questions of all time  on the quality of our worship stressing the need to share the basic human need: food, shelter and clothing to/with the needy. Failure to do so leaves a lot of evidence to the contrary. There was no mention of surplus. To share means to break in two regardless what you have and not wait until you get enough. A recent disturbing report says that the wealth of the 85 richest people in the world is equal to the 3.4 billion people combined. Whenever there’s poverty, people lacking the basic necessities of life, something has gone wrong. 

Therefore…Isaiah continues…”share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless; clothe the naked when you see them, and do not turn back on your own” (Isa. 58: 7).

Our minds may probably be traveling miles ahead intent on giving away our garbage, the stack of slightly used slash like new, untouched, unopened items in original packaging still with the price tag in the garage. Or maybe, if you just want to get rid of a pile of clothes, wrap them in a plastic bag as the case may be, bring it on, drop it anytime, anywhere in Christopher. Your surplus may be someone else’s treasure. 

The Eucharist has a social dimension. It is inextricably linked with a duty to the needy even if we claim to be one with them. What happens in the liturgy (the work of the people) then is inseparably connected with the world. What we do afterwards is essentially a result of worship, an effect of what transpired in the Mass. To share then is a responsibility, not an option, not a suggestion, if fulfilled, brings joy, happiness, healing, God’s choicest blessings,  and the most visible, credible, reliable evidence ever of our belief and communion with God.  “Then you light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed; your vindication shall go before you, and the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard ” (Isa. 58: 7-8). There’s a price, there’s a reward for selfless living.

And yet, he doesn’t end there. The second part illustrates additional social concerns which are expected of those who have committed to the Lord:

“Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer, you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am! if you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech; if you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted; then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday” (Isa. 58: 9-10).

In the second reading, Paul insists that his source of inspiration isn’t human wisdom, neither to expose his resumé  or cleverness of speech as many of them probably thought but Christ crucified. He was unassuming. He didn’t presume he knew-it-all with full confidence turning things around.

“For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling, and my message and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of Spirit and power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God” (1 Cor. 2: 2-5).

What a relief as Jesus employs a metaphor of salt and light to describe what it means to be a disciple. In the ancient of days even now, salt is greatly valued, nicknamed ‘divine’ because of its many uses which cannot be overemphasized. With its crystal glistening sparkling white, iodized or not, it’s known as the purest and most useful of all things to offer sacrifices, to preserve raw meat/fish and for seasoning. In restaurants and food chains, it occupies the center piece of the table together with black pepper, soy sauce, ketchup, cilantro, lime, salsa, chili hot sauce, picante…etc…

Jesus exhorts his followers that they must be perfect examples of purity and modesty against a morally corrupt, dwindling/drifting society. Just as salt is used for preservation, they must prevent a godless,  soul- less world (claiming there’s nothing beyond the physical universe) from decay, from getting rotten by greed and immorality. Just as salt is used for seasoning, Christians must add distinctive flavor with giddy excitement to life, act as diffusers to joy, to enliven, season, purpose-driven, mission-oriented, bring energy and enthusiasm to a tired, worried, distressed and dying church. The Mass must put smiles on our faces. We are diffusers of joy, dispensers of happiness to those who find it (lots of them online often ending in a bad company), messengers of hope, providers  of love and those deprived of it. If you cease to bring joy, you stopped putting life, then you invite disaster. A story is told about the first Christians being trampled at the door of the church if they cease to do their job of bringing joy to others.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.”

Light is meant to be seen, to be visible. It is also used as a guide that serves as a warning-for danger ahead. If you see something, say something. If you know someone’s life/manner of living is eating that person alive is going down the slope, come to the rescue, have the courage to tell that person even if it hurts. I’ve heard stories about young people saying they would never have done such a terrible thing mistake if they were well informed, received support through the kindness of an individual. It can be very effective if it’s done in love, not in anger and the likes. 

The creed professed Sunday after Sunday doesn’t stop at the church’s door but must be lived and applied out in the ordinary not for vanity or an ostentatious display but The words and language used, our work ethic and behavior in work environment, at the checkout counter, sharing meal at a restaurant. There’s no such thing as secret discipleship. What a relief driving in Tangerine Rd in a 45mi/hr posted speed limit at night with all the streetlights. Try driving doing in the new development in Red Rock, with a busted headlight and tipsy, not sure where you’ll end up. Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church defines her as the people of God…

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lamp stand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly father” (Mt. 5: 17-18). Amen. 

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

It all began, centuries before the dawn of the digital age, with a simple invitation to follow him and a quick response to build the largest religious institution the world has ever known with approximately 1 point- something- billion- members and counting (faithful and unfaithful included). That said, we cannot underestimate nor take for granted the impact of a humble, gracious, and friendly personal invitation as it has proven to work and yielded unimaginable results. We’re told that after hearing the call, they immediately, not pre-meditated, dropped their nets and followed him not on twitter or Facebook but on the way, entirely embracing the gospel way of life.

By way of introduction to Jesus’ public ministry, Matthew kicks it off by taking us back, giving us a foretaste of Isaiah’s quotable verse highlighting the fulfillment of prophecy in Jesus in a specified geographical location that is, Galilee, a bustling, sprawling open city by ancient standards, livelihood stemming mostly from farming and fishing industries with tremendous outside cultural influences:

“Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen (Mt. 4:15-16).” 

For Matthew, it was in Galilee that Jesus called his first disciples.

“As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him (Mt. 4:18-20).”

Similarly, in the case of James and John, the sons of Zebedee responded quickly.

“He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him (Mt. 4:21-22).” 

When this occurred, Jesus wasn’t sitting in the desk in the comfort of his office making calls. He wasn’t standing in the corner of congress st. and broadway blvd. in downtown Tucson, a perfect spot to chance upon a prospect. He was out-on-the-go while the would-be disciples were tied up at work hauling their nets. They weren’t just sitting around by the bay as the case would have been watching passers-by…hoping to get noticed…gazing at the horizon…a la buena vista…They were fishermen, by profession. They did it for a living, not for recreation and leisure. For them, to leave  their livelihood, their bread and butter, their means of survival in a tough environment and most importantly, abandon their father in the middle of work to a Galilean preacher who promised nothing but an assurance, was not an easy thing to do.

Because it was prompt, it happened quickly which sounded too good to be true, I figured Jesus must have met them before. It appeared he was familiar with them. Strange as it may have seemed, there wasn’t much talking involved, no further details as to the extent, no signed contract if need be, no term limits, no iffy’s and buts, no hint of hesitation whatsoever, none of that. It’s hard for us to relate in a story that doesn’t much count the human aspect, the various stages we go through in making a lifetime decision. Even if it’s a simple item you want to buy in the mall, it takes time to figure out whether or not you’ll swipe your credit card in exchange for a stuff. Even in Facebook, twitter and other networking sites, getting a friend request from someone unfamiliar makes you shiver…who in the world is this? por favor, check the profile pic, photos, background, leads and posts in the timeline if it’s worth hitting the confirm button. As experience tells us, following someone goes through different stages: issue of trust, questioning, curiosity, seeking, etc. Similarly with Jesus, before we arrive at a pivotal turn, at a critical point, you get to know the person first before deciding to open your heart and risk your life to something beyond our capacity to comprehend. A personal choice usually takes place at the end all things considered.

But, what if the author told us the story exactly as it happened? What if it really took them just a quarter of a second, even less in my estimation, to make the decision? When you finally make a choice, you’re in for the long run and the details aren’t that important. When you drop the nets, you leave everything else behind driven by the mission God wants you to do. What if the early Christians wanted to let us know that when sign up, don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t demand for anything because no amount of money can compensate you for the job and for what you’re about to get into.

Paul was right on target in the second reading as he addressed the Corinthian community experiencing inner strife “in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul didn’t see it firsthand. He was only informed about this. He urged them there should be no fights and quarrels, jealousies and rivalries, stop the bickering, pettiness and divisions, none of these things have place in the community. He reminded those who claimed allegiance to various religious leaders like Paul, Apollos, Cephas, and Christ to seriously reflect on their sense of loyalty as many say, I belong to Benedict XVI, I belong to Francis, help me..I’m missing out…

“I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you may be united in the same mind and in the same purpose. For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers and sisters, by Chloe’s people, that there are rivalries among you.”

I have no doubt in my mind that there’s more to the gospel than meets my senses. They must have seen something extraordinary in Jesus, in the unknowability of God and to the extent possible, in fishing that prompted them to drop their nets. Amen.