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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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Leopold Mandic: Western Christians who are working for greater dialogue with Orthodox Christians may be reaping the fruits of Father Leopold’s prayers.
<p>A native of Croatia, Leopold joined the Capuchin Franciscans and was ordained several years later in spite of several health problems. He could not speak loudly enough to preach publicly. For many years he also suffered from severe arthritis, poor eyesight and a stomach ailment.
</p><p>Leopold taught patrology, the study of the Church Fathers, to the clerics of his province for several years, but he is best known for his work in the confessional, where he sometimes spent 13-15 hours a day. Several bishops sought out his spiritual advice.
</p><p>Leopold’s dream was to go to the Orthodox Christians and work for the reunion of Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy. His health never permitted it. Leopold often renewed his vow to go to the Eastern Christians; the cause of unity was constantly in his prayers.
</p><p>At a time when Pope Pius XII said that the greatest sin of our time is "to have lost all sense of sin," Leopold had a profound sense of sin and an even firmer sense of God’s grace awaiting human cooperation.
</p><p>Leopold, who lived most of his life in Padua, died on July 30, 1942, and was canonized in 1982.</p> American Catholic Blog Heavenly Father, give me the grace to be grateful and to use my gifts and talents to show your love to others so that when they see me, they recognize you living in me and loving them through me. I ask this in Jesus's name, Amen.

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