Before We Go Fishing: An Examination of Faith

No sermon this week (because the Archbishop sent us a Pastoral Letter) but a short reflection which I placed in the parish bulletin:

In this week’s Gospel, the disciples are challenged to become “Fishers of Men”. They are surprised when Jesus tells them to pay out their nets, because their experience tells them they aren’t going to catch any fish… but Jesus knows better! The disciples haul in more fish than they can handle, and are given their new assignment, to catch souls for God.

It’s easy for us to become discouraged. The values of the society we live in drift further and further from our Christian values in which every human, however vulnerable, is considered precious, and in which sexual relationships are meant to be lived out exclusively in the life-long commitment of husband and wife. God becomes pushed to the margins of human consciousness. We begin to doubt that new members will want to join our church, and we note our failures to persuade our children and grandchildren to remain faithful Catholics.

In the midst of our discouragement, the Lord invites us to listen attentively for his direction. When he calls us to do so, we must pay out our nets for a catch. Lent begins on Wednesday, and during this Year of Faith, let us repent of our despair; let us believe that Our Lord is indeed inviting us to catch men, women and children to be new inhabitants of his nets.

If our new members are to believe in our church, they must see us living out our demanding values. If every vulnerable human is precious, then we must be prepared to give of our taxes and our time to support those lives. If marriage is going to survive for a lifetime, then husband and wife must be willing to seek to understand each other’s needs and keep working on mutual communication skills throughout their lives. If we are serious about loving God with all our heart, mind, and strength, then we must give time to God, through prayer and meditation, in each day of our personal and family life.

Let this coming Lent be for us, then, an examination of conscience about Faith. Have we believed in our Faith? Have we kept the Faith? Have we lived out our Faith? These questions will be examined Sunday by Sunday as we journey towards our renewal of faith, our renewal of baptismal commitment, at Easter.