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Friday, February 8, 2013




       The liturgy this Sunday is about Vocation.  It tells us the calling of Isaiah, Paul and Peter.  The three of them have different background: Isaiah probably a member of the royal court, Paul a highly educated Pharisee, Peter a simple fisherman.  They all felt their unworthiness in receiving the call:  Isaiah was unclean, Paul used to kill Christians, Peter considered himself a sinful man.   God gave them grace:  Isaiah’s lips were touched by a burning coal, Paul encountered Christ and became converted, Peter saw the miraculous catch of fish.  They were called for a mission:  Isaiah became one of the major prophets, Paul became the Apostle to the Gentiles, Peter became the first pope of the Church.


In the light of the universal call to holiness according to Vatican II, each one of us has a vocation story which is inter-connected with the rest of humanity.  Each one responded the call by embracing the different states of life we are in.   I was seventeen years old when I responded to God’s call to the priesthood  and since then my vocation has affected my family, friends, strangers and the rest of the world.

Let us reflect on the calling of Peter in our gospel.  After Jesus preached in the boat owned by Peter, He asked Peter to put out into deep water and lower the nets for a catch.  Here a carpenter who had never been to fishing all his life was telling a master fisherman how to catch fish and during the time of the day when a catch would be more impossible.  The command seemed ridiculous and may even sounded pretty stupid.  All night long, Peter failed to catch a single fish but in obedience he said “If you say so, I lower the nets.”   The result was the incredible miraculous catch of fish.   In the sight of such extraordinary incident, Peter fell at Jesus’ feet and felt his unworthiness saying “Leave me, Lord I am a sinful man.”  Jesus assured Peter: “Do not be afraid” and pronounced the new vocation of Peter: “From now on you will be catching people.”  Together with James and John, they left everything and followed Jesus.


Like Peter, we are masters in our own right through our career, trade, skills and craft.   It will be very hard for us to accept the advice of other people coming from other orientation most especially if we are challenged in performing our skills.   Like Peter, sometimes we also experience our own inadequacy and fruitlessness despite our effort and dexterity.   These are times when we simply want to give up most especially when everything seems to fail and we become hopeless.   Those who find difficult to cope may even enter into depression and withdraw from the reality of life.  Worst are those who find life meaningless and some even commit suicide because of despair.


Indeed life is futile without Christ.   Like Peter, we may be masters in many different ways and even if we want to control our life the way we want it, fullness of life does not depend in our proficiency and accomplishments.    By all means, we need God. The difficulty lies in our dependence on our own self-sufficiency most especially when we think we can live on our own without depending on God.     This is  true to those who refuse to believe in God because they do not see the need of God.   Since these people continue to exist without believing in God, they fall into self-deification (making the self a god) which is one the greatest pitfalls of secularization. 

There comes a time when God asks us to do something which may sound ridiculous and illogical according to our judgment.    It takes our gut to step outside our comfort zones to venture into the unknown but our obedience to God will always be rewarded with amazing results beyond our imagination such as the miraculous catch of Peter.   If ever we are rewarded with a good fortune in life, it is not all because of our effort or self-mastery.  Like Peter, we should be humbled by the thought that God in His mysterious ways will always lead us towards the great surprises  of  life.   In the light of our faith, we call it grace.

After the miraculous catch of fish, Peter, James and John followed Jesus and left their boats to become fishers of men.    We are always called to follow Jesus but our following of Him is expressed in the ordinary lives we live in.   Some follow Jesus more radically than others by embracing the religious life, entering the convent, seminary or monastery.   They continue to be the living icons of life which may not be fashionable in the eyes of the world but nevertheless they are signs that life is worth living for the sake of God.

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