January 26, 2020
When Jesus heard that John had been arrested,
he withdrew to Galilee.
He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea,
in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali,
that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet
might be fulfilled:
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.
From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say,
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
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.
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.
He went around all of Galilee,
teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom,
and curing every disease and illness among the people.
Jesus is aware today his hero (John the Baptist) has been arrested. He’s aware he is likely next. He has left the comforts of Nazareth and gone to the borderlands to live in Capernaum by the Sea of Galilee. This is a wilder area mainly populated by Gentiles.
Now, I want you to trust me a moment. Just sit back and relax. Hands in your lap. Deep breath and let it out. Just listen to my voice and let your imagination take you the place I describe.
Imagine yourself as Simon Peter. You’re in a boat with your brother casting your nets trying to catch fish. The sun is shining down. You’re sweating. The boat is gently rocking with the waves. There is a nice sea breeze blowing across your face, through your hair that carries a coolness and the smell of the sea.
Suddenly you look to the shore and you see this young, charismatic preacher walking. You know him. Everyone has heard of him. You may have heard him teach.
Now, he’s looking at you. And he calls to you, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” You immediately go to him and follow.
Further down the shore you see John and James, the sons of Zebedee. Jesus calls to them and they immediately leave their father to join you.
Your first stop is the synagogue where Jesus takes a scroll and begins to read and teach. Everyone is astounded by what they hear. They’ve not heard anything like him before. Suddenly, a man possessed by a demon calls out, “Jesus, we know who you are, Son of God. Stop.” Jesus tells him to be silent. He then orders the demon to leave him – which it does.
You then go to your home for a meal but your mother in law has been in bed sick with fever. You watch as Jesus goes to her and reaches out to help her stand – and the fever leaves her.
Who is this man? He commands demons and heals with a touch.
After the meal you step outside and see the people crowding around. Many are sick and infirm, crippled in body and mind. And Jesus begins to teach and heal until late in the evening where finally you get to rest.
But when you awake in the morning Jesus is gone. So you search for him and find him in a quiet, secluded place praying.
Then the day begins anew.
Now, open your eyes. We did this exercise for a couple reasons. First, it is Word of God Sunday. The Holy Father is trying to help us to become more familiar with scripture.
The Gospel I proclaimed from Matthew didn’t give those details of Jesus’ day. But Mark and Luke also described this same day and by putting the three accounts together you get the day I just described.
Scripture is deep and beautiful. So, you can pray alone or in small groups or large. We would love to see you discussing scripture in small groups – over coffee, lunch, student groups, sewing clubs – and there are so many. The ultimate small group is your family. Husband and wife, parents and children. That then grows out to our Sts Simon and Jude Community and then out from there.
As you know, Fr Pat has a year long message of Communion – forming community. We’re in the second season now – St Ignatius of Loyola.
I’m not sure if you’re familiar with his story but as a young man he dreamed of glory with a very vivid imagination. His desire was to win glory in battle by winning or dying. Neither was God’s plan.
He was badly injured and returned home suffering terribly from a leg injury. While alone in his suffering he began to read scripture and the lives of the saints. He would allow his imagination to transport him into those lives. When St Ignatius spoke of Jesus it wasn’t about a man written down but a man he knew face to face.
He began to write these experiences down and they became known as Ignatian Spirituality. That’s what we did earlier in the Day of Jesus. Contemplative prayer can be a wonderful way to pray.
St Ignatius was always trying to discern where God was leading him. He did it with prayer. Discerning is simply trusting with no proof that what you are doing is right because God is leading you.
Recently I had to discern for myself. I had recently lost my job. I had a choice – go into the secular world or wait for the possibility of a job to continue my ministry. I prayed about it and felt God was leading me to stay in ministry – here at Sts Simon and Jude with a new family and community.
Let’s try a quick discernment exercise. Maybe who your favorite deacon might be. So, everyone raise your hand. Come on, don’t be shy. Father is everyone’s hand up? Yes?
OK you can put them down. Now, everyone who raised your hand voted for me as your favorite deacon. It is with great humility I accept your love and affection. I am truly humbled.
Let’s do one more. Let’s say that at the end of Mass, any money you might have on you will be given to your favorite deacon. Now, everyone raise your hand.
Why no hands?
You see, you are discerning. Not that you won’t give me your money but you need to think – pray – about it first.
I have discerned that I want see where God is taking me.
You need to do the same because there on the shore is this charismatic preacher calling, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”