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Bible Reflections View Comments

The Work We Do Every Day
By Diane M. Houdek
Source: Bringing Home the Word
Published: Sunday, April 14, 2013
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Today’s Gospel pulls together themes and echoes of the many stories of Jesus’s ministry in Galilee: the call of the fishermen to be the first disciples, the multiplication of bread and fish to feed the crowds, the miraculous catch of fish, the final meal shared with Jesus before his death, the breaking of the bread on the road to Emmaus. These are significant events, and the writer of John’s Gospel shows us how the apostles needed to deepen their understanding of them.

The resurrection indeed changed everything on a cosmic level, but Peter, John, and the rest were still going out fishing in their boats. So it is with us. It takes a lifetime of living our faith to achieve a real integration of what we do in our everyday lives with what we profess on Sunday.

Jesus’s first followers were fishermen. He called them to leave their nets and follow him, promising that he would make them fishers of people. In the confusion following his death, they returned to their fishing nets, but they didn’t lose the lessons he had taught them, and they were ready to hear his call once again.

Our own daily work can become a deep expression of our faith. Take some time to reflect on the work that you do and how it deepens and manifests your faith in God and how it can allow you to do the work to which God is calling you.

Too often we think that only professional religious people—priests, nuns, theologians, Catholic writers—can preach the good news. But sometimes the professionals are at a disadvantage. They can get bogged down in a specialized language and academic fine points.

Jesus understood this. This is why he focused his parables and actions on the most basic aspects of the daily lives of his listeners and followers. He strove throughout his time on earth to forge a connection between the message he preached and the way people lived that good news in their lives.

At the Last Supper he said, “When you eat and drink, remember me.” In Luke’s Gospel, a stranger walked with the disciples on the road to Emmaus and explained and interpreted the Scriptures for them, but it wasn’t until he broke bread with them that they recognized him as the Lord. Here in John’s Gospel the stranger on the beach, tending a charcoal fire, patiently leads them through their memories of him and his actions and they, too, recognize him as Lord.

We witness a most poignant meeting between Jesus and Peter in today’s Gospel as well. In John’s passion narrative, we last see Peter warming his hands over a charcoal fire in the courtyard, filled with fear and anger. Three times he denies even knowing the man being tried and crucified, the man he swore to give his life to defend. One wonders whether the familiar charcoal fire brought back shameful memories of this denial. Many people interpret this threefold affirmation of his love as a healing of that denial. Healed of his shame, forgiven by the very person he denied, he can go on to live the ministry to which he’s been called.

Service to others is ultimately the manifestation of our love for God and for one another. It’s not about learned discussions or theological distinctions. It’s about showing the depth of God’s love and forgiveness for the people we meet. Jesus knows this. Peter will learn it. So will we.


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John Vianney: A man with vision overcomes obstacles and performs deeds that seem impossible. John Vianney was a man with vision: He wanted to become a priest. But he had to overcome his meager formal schooling, which inadequately prepared him for seminary studies. 
<p>His failure to comprehend Latin lectures forced him to discontinue. But his vision of being a priest urged him to seek private tutoring. After a lengthy battle with the books, John was ordained. </p><p>Situations calling for “impossible” deeds followed him everywhere. As pastor of the parish at Ars, John encountered people who were indifferent and quite comfortable with their style of living. His vision led him through severe fasts and short nights of sleep. (Some devils can only be cast out by prayer and fasting.) </p><p>With Catherine Lassagne and Benedicta Lardet, he established La Providence, a home for girls. Only a man of vision could have such trust that God would provide for the spiritual and material needs of all those who came to make La Providence their home. </p><p>His work as a confessor is John Vianney’s most remarkable accomplishment. In the winter months he was to spend 11 to 12 hours daily reconciling people with God. In the summer months this time was increased to 16 hours. Unless a man was dedicated to his vision of a priestly vocation, he could not have endured this giving of self day after day. </p><p>Many people look forward to retirement and taking it easy, doing the things they always wanted to do but never had the time. But John Vianney had no thoughts of retirement. As his fame spread, more hours were consumed in serving God’s people. Even the few hours he would allow himself for sleep were disturbed frequently by the devil. </p><p>Who, but a man with vision, could keep going with ever-increasing strength? In 1929, Pope Pius XI named him the patron of parish priests worldwide.</p> American Catholic Blog The most beautiful and spontaneous expressions of joy which I have seen during my life were by poor people who had little to hold on to. –Pope Francis

Stumble Virtue Vice and the Space Between

 
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St. John Vianney
Do you know a priest who reminds you of St. John Vianney? Send him an e-card to thank him for his ministry.

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