Friday, February 8, 2013

SUNDAY'S SERMON 2/10 Fishing for Valentines

"It makes one almost despair of this nation being
a peaceful one: we are a nation addicted to images
of violence, brutality, sadism, self-affirmation by
arrogance, aggression, and so on . . ."

"I was praying for a Trappist vocation against all hope."

                       -    Trappist Monk Thomas Merton

Would Isaiah, the Hebrew Scripture's prophet, one who stands in for God, appreciate Valentine's Day?


"Here I am, send me," Isaiah (Ch. 61)  said to the voice of the Lord, asking:

"Whom  shall I send?  Who will go for us?"

Simon Peter in today's Gospel is also called.  His call is to fish for people.

Will Isaiah and Simon Peter respond to their calls?  Will you?

Both were effective and fruitful leaders.  Nets were breaking full of fish caught in Simon Peter's boat. In fact, two boats began to sink with the catch.

Peter, James and John left the empty nets and boats that were abandoned on the shore.

They also left their possessions, vocation, and family to follow a stranger with a power they had never before witnessed.

They embarked on a lifelong mission they could never have imagined.

Surrender of self and things, their own dreams, is involved here.

We all know.

Been there.  Done that!

The life of a physician, attracted me.  But, God had other plans.  Like the Hound of Heaven, God gets God's way if one listens.

At first, I resisted, although I pursued thoughts about ministry, "playing" Mass with a veil cloth over a cup on a cardboard box table with a slice of bread.  The mystery, the magic, maybe, intrigued me no end.  Changing bread and wine, morphing those elements into the Living Presence!  Wow!  And, to become that Presence as another saint, Augustine, said, "Receive who you are, the body of Christ."

For any young idealist that would be attractive.

For Jesus, his solitary mission at times had him treking from Nazareth to Capernaum and on throughout Judea, casting out demons, healing the sick, and preaching with ardor the Word of God.

All of this.  And, more.  I got it all, praise God! Such a meaningful life stooping low to serve.

'Tho some days, like every way of life, have their ups and downs, consolations and desolations, the meaning that emerges from ministry is more than I ever imagined.

Trappist monk, Thomas Merton of Gethsemane Retreat Center in Kentucky where holiness pervades with biblical psalms sung throughout hours of the day and night, had his vocation story also.

His, Seven Storey Mountain, has helped countless people decide on their life's work.

Similarly, the origin of Saint Valentine's Day this week, a day greeting card companies and candy stores making chocolates, must relish, is unclear, but seems to have taken root in England, a cold country where the signs of spring are eagerly anticipated.  As you may recall, as far back as Chaucer it was commonly observed that birds began to pair and mate around the feast of St. Valentine, from mid-February.

Valentine, whose name is oddly commemorated, was apparently a Christian priest in Rome who assisted martyrs during the persecution under Emperor Claudius II. He was arrested eventually and sent before the prefect of Rome. Valentine, a third century martyr, refused to renounce his faith.  Consequently, he was beaten and beheaded.  Valentine, nevertheless, offered his heart, and proved that he was a true devotee of our God of Love. 

Cyril and Methodius, two brothers in the ninth century of Greece, were apostles of the Slavs who heard their calls also. They followed their hearts.   Their memory is marked also on February 14, and, are revered as patron saints of ecumenism.  They invented a written Slavonic alphabet into which they translated the Sacred Scriptures, and are considered founders of Slavonic literature who introduced the Slavonic language into the liturgy, like the vernacular that we experience here at Mass in English, the language of the country, beyond Latin, since Vatican Council II.

Holy hearts.  We thank people from the bottom of my heart, but for God, one's heart has no bottom.

They all were that and more.

How about your heart? 

Does it meet with, "Here I am Lord, send me?"

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