From the Pastor's Desk

January 21st

     “Help! I need somebody. Help! Not just anybody. Help! You know I need someone. Help!”            
     In 1965, those words introduced the Beatles hit song, “Help!” It was understood that the one being asked to offer assistance, was the listener, that is, You. Very early in our Lord’s ministry, Jesus realized that the scope of His Father’s plans would require more than He could do alone. He needed help. His first act was to call four fishermen.            
     Even today, some fishermen work by contract. The work is strenuous and dangerous. In good weather and in bad, working on the sea calls for a person to be ready to adapt to any situation.              
     Fishermen know how to cast their nets and wait patiently for a response. At times, fishermen cast their nets repeatedly until finally, they have success. They must also know how to shift their boats when the weather changes and not be afraid to set out on deep water. Fishermen work together, trusting in their tools and in each other. They possess some valiant qualities.            
     When Jesus commanded the first fishermen to follow Him, He meant for them to pattern their living and ministry after Him. The work Jesus is engaged in has a sense of urgency to it. This mission was something He could not do alone, but He could empower others to be fishers of people.            
     In the first reading, Jonah spoke to the people and they understood the urgency of their spiritual situation and responded to God in a way that opened them up to God’s grace. The call to be fishermen of the Lord is not just a New Testament invention.            
     Today, as we work to recreate a “Church Alive!” we too are called to be fishermen of the Lord. We are called to follow in His life-style. To cast our nets again and again and not to lose heart. We are called to shift gears according to the spiritual situation we face. The situation is urgent; souls hang in the balance. Jesus says to us today: “Help! I need somebody. Help! Not just anybody. I need you!”

     In our lives, we have been blessed by the presence of mentors. We trusted those who spoke to us from their wisdom. At times, we have imitated their lessons or adapted them to make them our own. Our lives are better because of those who acted as “spiritual mentors,” “career mentors,” those who have taught us how to parent, supported and challenged us throughout our lives.
     Good mentors are present to us at key moments in our lives. The Scripture Lessons today feature many effective mentors.
     In the First reading, Samuel is called, but does not understand who is calling him. Each time the Lord calls out, Samuel believes that Eli is calling him. After a while, Eli sees the bigger picture. As a mentor, he helps Samuel understand how he should answer. Eli is responsible for helping Samuel be open to the Word of God that would guide Samuel throughout his life. Samuel’s words have become a prayer spoken by many people, “Speak Lord, for Your servant is listening.”

     In literature, Light and Darkness have been used to symbolize goodness, and it’s polar opposite, evil. In our Advent and Christmas readings, the Prophet Isaiah used darkness to refer to the gloomy plight of the people of Ancient Israel who looked to recover from exile. Isaiah used light when he spoke of the hope of Israel’s future restoration. But, this is no ordinary light. It is the Light of God encircling a nation, in order to transform it, so that God’s light will shine through it, inviting all of the other nations to experience, the light of God’s love. It is the experience of being chosen by God to be loved and redeemed by God.            
     The Epiphany, or Manifestation of God, that we celebrate today is characterized by the Great Star, shining through the darkness—pointing a way through the darkness into the Light of the Lord. And who is to be illumined by this light? For whom is the Good News of Bethlehem meant? Not just the Magi. It is meant for us.            

     The Feast of the Holy Family focuses on the Holy family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. This celebration usually occurs on the first Sunday after Christmas. The Church wants us to see the important link between the birth of our Redeemer and the family.
     During these days, many of us have taken part in rich traditions passed onto us by our families. These customs bear witness to the truth that God has entered into human history in the middle of a family and as a part of a family. This underscores the importance of families.