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Veritatis Splendor

"Keep your eyes fixed upon Jesus, who inspires and perfects our faith" --Hebrews 12:2

Pope Benedict XVI before our Lord

And only where God is seen does life truly begin. Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is. We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution.
Each of us is the result of a thought of God.
Each of us is willed,
each of us is loved,
each of us is necessary.
There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him.
~Pope Benedict XVI, Homily April 24th, 2005

Monday, February 05, 2007

"Gone Fishing"

One of the finest blogging priests around, Fr. Jay at Young Fogeys, has fished out a marvelous excerpt from one of Fr. Cantalamess'a recent reflections on the Gospel (from yesterday's Mass - Luke 5:1-11). This time, the Papal Preacher examines the relationship between the fisherman and the fish, the shepherd and the sheep, and how we are to follow Christ by living at turns all of them - shepherd, sheep, fisherman and fish - throughout our lives.

This, as Fr. Jay likewise noted, is a unique approach to this passage. Typically (and with good reason) this Gospel reading inspires homilies on vocations, particularly vocations to the priesthood - "I will make you fishers of men." Oftentimes this does develop further into a reflection on the meaning of vocation in general, but still, it tends to stay in the vague realm of "holiness" and "following the Lord's will" and such. Great things, but usually not fleshed out in quite the way that Fr. Cantalamessa has done this week. What consequences it should have for us in our Catholic life - they are beyond number!

As Fr. Cantalamessa points out, the priests and bishops' vocations lean more towards shepherds: their primary responsibility is for care of their sheep, not to go out and get more sheep (yes, they are to go after the one that is lost, but 99% of the time, what are they doing? Watching their own flock). For the laity, on the other hand, our vocation is more closely aligned with that of the fisherman, the hunter - we exist in a more fluid environment, where the "fish" are plentiful, and we are in a position out in deep water to catch them by the net of God's grace!

Wherever we are, whatever job or situation we are in - we need to remember how to fish! Every moment, ever encounter, is an opportunity sent by God to help us help each other to heaven - are we using these moments as we should? Are we encouraging each other in holiness? Are we taking the time to deepen our friendships, or are we thinking instead of the next task on our list, or even just the next sentence that we want to say? A good fisherman is patient, is attentive, and is well-prepared to fish by gaining knowledge about the fish and the area - we too, need to do likewise to be good fishermen for Christ. We need to be both patient and smart, we need to know our limits and know who it is that we are talking with.

Then again, we need to remember that we're not only the fisherman, but we're also oftentimes the fish! We can't catch ourselves, we need to be caught in Christ's net too! Do we allow ourselves to be the fish, or do we insist on being the leader and having our way? Are we humble before others, before the fishermen in our lives that Christ has sent to get us? Do we fight the hook and line of our sufferings, trying to go our own way and driving the hook in more deeply than it needs to be?

Shifting focus a little bit, another angle that Fr. Cantalamessa uses is comes from the reference to the "other boat" in Scripture - the future Pope and James and John needed help, so they called out to the other boat for help to bring in the catch. The priests and bishops - or, on the other hand, the laity - cannot work alone, we need help from one another to fulfill the task laid out for us. Priests need the laity to help evangelize the world, but the laity need the priests to bring the catch - including themselves - in to Christ.

Go read Fr. Jay's full post and his insights at "Fr. Raniero on Sheep & Fish"!


Blogger Joe said...

My take on this has always been verrrrry close to Fr. Jay's. When prompted by my CCD students I tell them this means that "if we catch 'em, God'll clean 'em."




February 18, 2007 8:24 PM  

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