Is 8: 23–9:3; I Cor 1: 10-13, 17; Mt 4: 12-23
Little Johnny was afraid of the dark. One night his mother told him to go out to the back porch and bring her the broom. Johnny turned to his mother and said, “Mama, I don’t want to go out there. It’s dark.” The mother smiled reassuringly at her son. “You don’t have to be afraid of the dark,” she explained. “Jesus is out there. He’ll look after you and protect you.” Johnny looked at his mother real hard and asked, “Are you sure he’s out there?” “Yes, I’m sure. He is everywhere, and he is always ready to help you when you need him,” she said. Little Johnny thought about that for a minute and then went to the back door and cracked it a little. Peering out into the darkness, he called, “Jesus? If you’re out there, would you please hand me the broom?”
Dear friends! On the day of our baptism the priest/deacon gave us the lighted candle saying, “Receive the light of Christ” and then continued, “Parents and godparents, this light is entrusted to you to be kept burning brightly. This child of yours has been enlightened by Christ. He (she) is to walk always as a child of the light. May he (she) keep the flame of faith alive in his (her) heart. When the Lord comes, may he (she) go out to meet him with all the saints in the heavenly kingdom.” As grown ups we need to ask ourselves today if we are walking as a child of the light keeping the flame of faith alive in our hearts.
A young man who later became a Cardinal was returning by sea from Italy to his native England. While the boat was detained in Sicily, young Newman fell ill and nearly died. During his convalescence, he wrote these words: “Lead kindly light, amid the encircling gloom,” because he believed that the prophecy of Isaiah had come true: “People who walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Is 8:23).
We too have our hours of darkness. The death of a lifelong spouse, an unexpected rejection by a loved one, a smashed dream of business success or the loss of good health can throw us into a temporary darkness. But at such tragic moments, true believers have in the past seen the light of Christ, a light that illumines the shadows of our hearts with the radiance of his splendor, guiding us to travel safely over the tempestuous sea of this mortal life, steering the vessel of life through rough storms of trials and troubles, until we have made the harbor of peace and bliss.
It is true that the light of Christ first shone in Galilee but it was meant to bring light to every one who comes into the world. Hence Jesus chose some to be his apostles telling them: “Come after me, I will make you fishers of men” (Mt 4:19). ‘Fishers’ is not just a metaphor but a mission, a mission to bring the light of Christ to cover the earth, as water covers the channels of the deep, to carry faith to the doubting, hope to the fearful, strength to the weak and comfort to the mourners.
It is a mission entrusted not just to the apostles, bishops and priests but also to the laity who serve in the Church as altar servers, readers and Eucharistic ministers as well as to those who serve outside it, such as the parish pastoral councils, the teachers, the catechists and parents. In fact all the baptized and confirmed are called to be fishers of for Christ. If Jesus, the dawn on our darkness, has made us into the brightest sons of the morning, it is in order that we, like fishermen, may leave behind our narrow cells and launch out into a larger sea of life as apostles of the light.
As we always say charity begins at home, let us ask ourselves therefore first; am I walking as the one who has received the light of Christ in my life every day? Do I lead my family and friends into that Light? How often have I neglected Jesus who is my light and guide to my path? Does my words and deeds corresponds to my faith and the belief? How can I respond to Jesus’ invitation today and every day, “Come after me, I will make you fishers of men”?
Please know that we all have received a unique call to preach the Good News of God’s love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation through his or her daily life. This call challenges us to rebuild our lives, homes and communities in the justice and peace that Jesus proclaims. As we continue with the celebration of the Holy Mass, let us ask the Lord Jesus to give us the strength and perseverance to answer His calling, so that we may faithfully serve the Lord, doing His Divine will as best as we can by cooperating with his grace.