Fishing is a popular sport in Minnesota. People flock to our many lakes in warmer months to get their quota of fish. And then there is ice-fishing in the winter when area frozen lakes are dotted with people trying their luck. Today’s gospel reminds us that the first disciples were fishermen. But fishing was not their leisure activity but their livelihood. It was how they earned their income. Jesus invites them to follow him and he would make them “fishers” of other people. They would become channels of drawing people into the Kingdom of God.
There was another catching going on. They were caught by Christ. They were drawn in by his simple yet profound invitation to be part of something greater than themselves. We hear this gospel story in the context of our Eucharistic celebration so that we can attend to how Christ is catching us to be part of this wonderful opportunity to be part of the expansiveness of God’s saving life and love.
How are you being caught by Christ? How are you being invited to draw other people into this saving mystery?
Today we hear the wonderful story of the call of Samuel. It took several attempts for him to realize that the Lord was calling him in the middle of the night. The seasoned mentor Eli acted as a kind of spiritual director for Samuel and helped him to discern the voice and message of the Lord. Finally, Samuel was able to respond, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”
This text is one of the inspirations for the familiar song composed by Daniel Schutte in 1981. It is used quite a lot in Catholic liturgies. Here is the refrain: “Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord? I have heard you calling in the night. I will go, Lord, if you lead me. I will hold your people in my heart.” During this time when we cannot sing in church because of the pandemic, we might especially find ourselves humming along with this stirring hymn.
When have you felt like Samuel? When have you responded to God like Samuel?
Today we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Today we conclude the Christmas season. On Monday we begin a stretch of Ordinary Time until Ash Wednesday. In the Liturgy, the event of Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River is really another epiphany. Jesus is manifested to us as the Beloved Son of God as the heavenly voice proclaims. The Holy Spirit descends upon him like a dove.
“Seek the Lord while he may be found, call him while he is near,” the prophet Isaiah proclaims in the first reading today. Like the magi, we seek the Lord. Like believers throughout the centuries, we seek the presence of Christ. We yearn to be in communion with the Beloved. We strive to be faithful followers of the One who has gone before us.
What does this process of seeking look like for you? How do you know Christ in your life as the Beloved One?