Thursday, 5 September 2013

Fishers of people: September 5th 2013

I've been away from this for a while for various reasons, but it's good to be back at it. Even if this doesn't get much readership, it's a good way for me to appropriate the daily readings and Saints! Today's Saint was a great example of what Jesus meant when he said we'd be gatherers of people (fisher of men!).

St. Bertin
Feast: September 5

Feast Day:September 5
Born:615, Constance


Abbot of St. Omer, b. near Constance about 615; d. about 709. He entered the monastery in France at a young age. under the austere Rule of St. Columban (559-615), he prepared himself for his future missionary career. In 638, he set out with some companions  for the  northern part of France in order to assist his friend and kinsman, Bishop St. Omer (d. 670), in the evangelization of the Morini, a heathen people of the North. The success of their labor was so rapid that they eventually had to build a Monastery to accommodate a new community of faithful where the city of St. Omer now stands. When nearly the whole neighbourhood was Christianized, and the marshy land transformed into a fertile plain, Bertin, knowing that his death was not far off, appointed Rigobert (d. 743), a pious monk, as his successor, while he himself spent the remainder of his life preparing for a happy death.The abbey church that bore his name, now in ruins, was one of the finest fourteenth-century Gothic edifices. In later times its library, archives, and art-treasures were renowned both in and out of France.

Reflections: There was an image about the Saint's account that sort of mesmerized me today: I could imagine him and his companions building a monastery that became a center of safety and hope for the local population during the Dark Ages of European Civlization, when there seemed to be so much hopelessness. To me this was a testimony of his deep faith. I imagine that in those days, after the recent collapse of the Roman Empire, many were beginning to believe it really was the end of the world, and that Christ's return would be just around the corner. They may have taken that opportunity to simply sit and wait for that return.  But those who opted for monastic life were much more spiritually mature than that (surprise surprise!) They lived for the opportunity to labor in God's vineyard here on earth, not sit and dream about some promise in the after life. For that reason, St Bertin was a perfect example of someone who wasn't afraid to follow Jesus' advice to cast his net into the deep.

The strength in his faith is what  allowed him to not give up hope as he confronted  the darkness of his age. That same strength is one of the signs of God's wisdom working in us that Paul speaks about in Colossians. That wisdom is expressed through a freedom that allows us to be available: Available (and therefore, FREE) to pray,  but also to  laboring for the Kingdom, and freedom to grow in in our knowledge of God.
This is heavy language,  but I believe we can boil it down to this: God loves us and sends us Jesus and the Holy Spirit that we may be transformed into beings devoted to God through the great love of our hearts; but before that transformation can take place, we need to dispose ourselves to the Great Divine. If our response is not an intentional Yes (like Mary's Yes to the Angel at the Annunciation), then no, we won't fully experience God.  If our response is rooted in a 'lackadaisical' reaction to God, then we will not feel the work of the Spirit within us, and will never feel that itch to recognize the Glory of God in our lives.
 However,when we do get to that point of recognition, everything changes..maybe not suddenly, but gradually, with time. We don't have the luxury of seeing what Simon Peter saw that day as they were fishing, but we do experience God's power in us in a myriad of ways everyday. The question always becomes, what will we do with our knowledge of God's power in our lives? For Peter, the response was twofold: 1) Be embarrassed by his own sinfulness, and even feel unworthy to stand before such a man as Jesus. 2) Once he understood how loved and forgiven he was -as we all are!!- he was ready to suddenly drop everything he had known, and follow this mysterious but enticing man we call Jesus.

Colossians 1: 9 - 14

9And so, from the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,
10to lead a life worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.
11May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy,
12giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.
13He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,
14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Psalms 98: 2 - 6

2The LORD has made known his victory, he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations.
3He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.
4Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
5Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody!
6With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD!
Luke 5: 1 - 11

1While the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennes'aret.
2And he saw two boats by the lake; but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets.
3Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
4And when he had ceased speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch."
5And Simon answered, "Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets."
6And when they had done this, they enclosed a great shoal of fish; and as their nets were breaking,
7they beckoned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.
8But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord."
9For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the catch of fish which they had taken;
10and so also were James and John, sons of Zeb'edee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men."
11And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.

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