Maria Kozakiewicz

WORD MADE FLESH

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – February 7, 2016
Isaiah 6.1-8 | Psalm 138 | 1 Corinthians 15.1-11 | Luke 5.1-11
January 25, 2016

Today's Gospel recounts Simon hearing the words "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people." The message is cryptic and unexpected.

Simon was not even part of the crowd listening to Jesus. Jesus entered his boat uninvited when Simon was preparing to go home, frustrated after a night of futile fishing. His life changed forever the moment Jesus stepped into his boat. He became a disciple, a priest and, eventually, the first pope.

The vocation to become a priest, nun or religious brother seems to be different than other calls. It is more distinct and clear, more personal and "custom made." No calls are alike; some are gentle like a breeze, others stormy.

Sometimes a boy practically grows into priesthood. He plays priest as early as kindergarten, "says Mass" in the backyard and enjoys his service at the altar.

Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch. - Luke 5.4

'Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.'

Luke 5.4

A little girl, the future nun, is more serious than other girls, prays more and listens to holy stories with rapture. She donates her small savings to the poor or helps an aged neighbour.

In less confused times, parents and other family elders read these signs and gently helped the vocation develop. They were careful not to push the call.

Today, the call often comes unexpectedly, contrary to human logic. I know at least two priests from atheistic families who had only been to Mass a few times before they felt, rather than heard, the call. In each case God put someone on their path who helped them understand the longing within.

Both men faced much opposition to their vocations. But now both do great work among agnostics and atheists.

In drastic cases, when God is in a hurry, he may even dispense with such preliminaries as faith itself. I have read of a holy, wise Dominican priest who brought many fallen-away European intellectuals back to church.

He entered the seminary unsure of God's existence. His family were wealthy, worldly Catholics without strong faith. Imagine their shock when he, a brilliant student of science, suddenly left university for the seminary, unable to explain his behaviour.

"I finally told my parents that I wanted to study philosophy," he recalled. "In fact, I did not know myself what I wanted. I knew one thing - that I had to be become a priest, a Dominican priest."

STRUGGLE, DELAY, YIELD

God wanted all these men, and he got them. They may have struggled and delayed, but finally they yielded - and then drew others to God.

For years they forgave sins in God's name, joined men and women in holy matrimony, taught children and adults, comforted the sick and dying, and spent lonely evenings and holidays, sometimes trying to fit in with the secular crowd and learning they could not.

Every day, however, they held the bread and wine in their hands and said the words that bring God down from heaven, and they knew their lives had meaning beyond human comprehension.

And it all began with Simon allowing Jesus into his boat.