|2/5/2013 9:13:00 AM|
Jesus Reaches Out to the World Through Us
Feb. 10, 2013
|Mary Jo Tully|
Chancellor, Archdiocese of Portland
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 6:1-2a, 3-8
1 Corinthians 15:1-11 or 15:3-8, 11
Whenever we speak about evangelization, we talk about meeting people where they are. Each time we say it, we act as if it is a brand new insight and novel idea. Sometimes we think the concept came from Vatican II. The truth is Jesus was doing that long before we began talking about it. Earlier in this Gospel, we found Jesus where we might expect—in the synagogue. In the Gospels, Jesus will return to the synagogue and the temple but he will most often preach where those who most needed to hear his words were to be found.
Jesus knew these people would be found at the lakeside or in the plains, along the roads and in the fields. The lakes and the sea were logical places. Fish was a staple in the Jewish diet then and even today fishing plays an important role in Israel’s economy.
Historically fishing had even greater significance in Jewish life at the time of Jesus. The Jews familiarity with fish and fishing was also tied to their religious thinking. In the Book of Genesis, fish were the first creatures to appear and throughout the Old Testament we have many references to fish and fishermen. Those references abound in the history of the Church. The fish was used as a Christian religious symbol sometime within the first three centuries AD. Christians began using the Greek word for "fish" as an anagram for "Jesus Christ God's Son, Savior."
So, even though Jesus was the son of a carpenter and might well have been a carpenter himself, fishing was something he knew about. Nonetheless, one can only imagine what Simon, James and John who fished for a living thought when Jesus told them how to get a better catch. But Simon had heard Jesus speak. In fact, it was from Simon’s boat that he taught. Simon was so impressed, not by Jesus’ fishing skills but by his preaching that he agreed to follow his directions and we know the rest of the story.
Believers encounter Christ and the Church in a variety of ways and in many places.
He reveals himself as holy through the believing community. We are those called to “be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us.” This is an invitation for us to speak of the wonders of Christ.
At this liturgy we praise the Lord and give thanks for our faith and the "holy people" in our lives who have touched us with their goodness and brought us to the God who gives faith. We pray for those people because they are a special gift to us.
Today, we accept the challenge to join those who call out to others in the name of goodness. We pray for the courage to be with them as we move to the altar to celebrate the wonders of the Lord.