My brothers and sisters in Christ,
Last week we had a lot of intentions to pray for and now I think this week we need to continue praying — for rain and for all those who are suffering from the drought in our state.
But today also we begin Catholic Schools Week. So I want to ask you for a special prayer for Catholic schools.
Our Catholic schools are a great blessing in our Church and in our community. So this week we want to thank God for our schools and for all our donors, teachers, and administrators. Let us pray for our schools to grow and that our students, pray for them too, will keep growing closer to Jesus and his Church. It is a special blessing for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to have the beautiful reality of Catholic schools as part of our ministry. So I ask your prayers for that special intention this coming week.
In the Gospel passage that we just heard this morning, we are hearing about the beginnings of Jesus’ public ministry. We see Jesus, for the first time, starting to preach and teach and to perform healings and miracles. And we see him, for the first time, calling disciples to follow him.
It’s interesting how the one thing that we should notice as we read the Gospels — is that Jesus does not travel alone. He started gathering disciples and helpers around him from the beginning of his ministry. They did not choose him. He went looking for them and he chose them.
And that’s one of the lessons of our readings from Sacred Scripture today. The Church really started as a community; Jesus started his ministry by forming a community.
And still, Jesus is gathering people around him. He is still calling to people to follow him. And that means each one of us. He is still calling each one of us — to follow him, to join him in his mission.
As Jesus first walked along the shores of the Sea of Galilee, he is still walking along in our world today. He is still present, still working, still carrying out his mission. And as he saw those first apostles by the sea, Jesus still sees us. And he still calls each one of us.
Everything in our Christian lives begins with this calling from Jesus.
And Jesus is not only calling priests or religious sisters. Every one of us has a “calling,” a “vocation.” To be his disciple, to follow Jesus. To help him in building his Kingdom of love.
So we can see that our Christian lives are a relationship, a journey and a mission. That we are all following Jesus in the ordinary circumstances of our everyday lives. And every moment we have a chance to serve Jesus — by serving our neighbors, by serving the people in our lives. And that we are a community, a family. As we have reflected on many times in our Sunday Eucharistic celebration.
And Jesus is calling us to be signs of God’s light in our world. The first reading of today’s Mass, this is the light that the prophet Isaiah is talking about in that first reading of today’s Mass. The great light of Christ that drives out the darkness in peoples’ lives. The great light that sets them free from everything that burdens them and keeps them from God.
So today, let us especially ask ourselves— what is Jesus calling us to do? What is he asking me to do? How can we help him? How can I help him? How can we spread his light in the world? How can we tell others about his love?
In the passage of the Gospel that we just heard, Jesus tells his disciples that he wants to make them fishers of men. That’s also what he is calling us to do. He wants us to be “fishers.” In our families; with our friends. With the people that we meet at work or at school, in our social relationship. But Jesus is not asking us to “go fishing” for people, or to try to “catch” people in “nets.”
You should probably know that there is a new movie, the title is Son of God. It’s going to be released on February 28th. It is a good movie about the life of Our Lord Jesus Christ. And there is a scene in the movie of the calling of St. Peter. They were on the boat and Jesus tells Peter, “Come with me.” And Peter says, “What are we going to do?” And Jesus answers, “Change the world.”
My brothers and sisters, to be fishers of men, means to go out and change the world. We have to go out, especially go of ourselves and bring the light of Christ into the world. Into the lives of people who are hurting and broken.
Jesus wants us to gather people and bring them to God — just as he did. One person at a time. Through our love. Jesus is calling us every day to make God “real” for other people and to make God “attractive” to others. Through our acts of kindness and our works of mercy. Through the way we smile and the way we live.
This is, my brothers and sisters, the beautiful mission that we have. To share the light of Jesus. To touch people’s lives with the light of his Gospel. With the light of his healing.
So we can see that Jesus is still proclaiming the Gospel of his kingdom. He is still healing his people. But he is doing it through his Church. He is doing it through us — through each one of us.
As we know, as I said before, we are a family in the Church. That’s what St. Paul is talking about in our second reading this morning. In the Church, following Jesus, we are united in the same mind and in the same purpose, that’s what St. Paul says in the second reading of today’s Mass.
And we have to reflect on this as we think of how we are going to attract more people to come closer to God — that they can see the light of Christ.
So that means we need to take care of our family, the Church. We need to have patience and understanding with one another. And we need to be less critical, less complaining. We need to keep our eyes on Jesus, on the cross of Christ. With love, we can find an answer to any problem.
So my brothers and sisters, we have such a beautiful, great mission. Jesus is calling us to change the world. To build his Kingdom, the Family of God. His Church.
And we do this — right where we’re at. In our homes. In our schools. In our neighborhoods.
Jesus wants us to bring the light of his Gospel to every corner of our lives! To help break down the walls that divide people.
So this week, let us keep reflecting on this beautiful call that we have. And let us ask for the grace to say yes to Jesus and follow him. And together let us continue to try to change the world. That the world can see Christ’s light and find joy and happiness.
So let’s ask our Blessed Mother for her intercession, to help us to keep following Jesus with a joyful heart. May she help us to cast a wide net of love and compassion in our world — and gather many people and bring them to God. In that way, then each one of us, can really be disciples — missionary disciples — of our Lord Jesus Christ. Apostles in this new century, just like Peter and Andrew and each one of the apostles. Again, what a beautiful vocation. May we say yes, once again, counting on the intercession of Mary, our Blessed Mother.