In the gospel today, we see the beautiful prophecy from Isaiah fulfilled: “The people in darkness have seen a great light.” The more I study the Bible, the more I am amazed at how so many passages and stories in the Old Testament foreshadow those in the New. The way that God planned it all from the very beginning of time is truly astounding.
Jesus calls us to repentance. Repentance is defined not only as “a turning away from sin” but a “turning toward God.” This reminds me of the sacrament of confession/reconciliation. I’ll be honest. I find going to confession much like going to the OB/Gyn – never really gets easier! However, that’s part of the whole process – an important part. Humility is a prerequisite for holiness. Going to confession takes humility. It is not fun to tell our sins to someone else. It forces us to admit the nasty, ugly part of ourselves we’d rather not face. A priest once told me, “Remember, you are not coming to see me. You are coming to talk to Jesus, and He already knows everything about you and loves you.” The feeling of being absolved – wiped totally clean sure is awesome though! It’s like walking on sunshine – literally! Whenever I take my school children to confession, they are all nervous and serious going in, and completely gregarious coming out. There’s no feeling like it!
Another thing I’d like to mention about repentance is the idea of “offering things up” in reparation for personal sin, for the sins of one’s family, for the souls in purgatory, for the evils taking place in our world today that surely must break the Lord’s heart. I think this is a beautiful tradition of our Catholic faith that has been forgotten by many. Whenever I experience pain – be it mental or physical – I try to remember to offer it up. It makes me feel good that the pain then has a purpose. It’s not for nothing!
Lastly, there is the idea of “fishing for men.” This is not a request put to the apostles alone. It is what we are called by our baptism to do as well. What will happen if we, as a church, stop “fishing-” bringing souls to Jesus? We don’t know when the King of Glory will return or when we will face our own personal death. Either way, there is not much time – we are here on earth but for a moment. Let’s give our lives completely to God to use as He so wills – to catch as many fish as possible!
If you have not seen the USCCB film, Fishers of Men, it is worth watching. It is just 17 minutes long – a great vocation mini movie about the calling to the priesthood – very powerful!