Divine Callings & Accompanying Feasts

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The fishermen brothers, Simon and Andrew, along with their partners James and John, the sons of Zebedee, had their best ever day of fishing ever, and then decided to quit their jobs. After Jesus’ instruction to go deeper with him, their catch of fish was so great that their two boats were filled to the point of nearly sinking. How much fish are we talking about?

In 1986, during a severe drought in Israel, a remarkably well-preserved, 2,000-year-old, 27-foot-long fishing boat was discovered at the Sea of Galilee and rescued from the mud. There’s no proof this boat now on display at a museum in Israel belonged to any of the apostles, but because its wood has been carbon dated to the 1st century A.D. it is dubbed “The Jesus Boat.” If the boats in today’s gospel were like that example, then accounting for the weight of the men and fishing gear, the boats could hold an estimated 31,000 pounds of fish apiece. Even if the average fish they caught that day weighed, say, six pounds, this would be a catch of over 10,000 fish. (Notice the gospels do not say the fishermen cast their nets just once; they record that both boats were filled despite their nets tearing from wear.) Simon, Andrew, James, and John were stunned, but Jesus said, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” Upon returning to shore, they immediately left their boats to follow him. That day changed the lives of these future apostles. But no one ever asks, “What happened to all the fish?

Jesus calling the fishermen and that huge catch of fish reminds me of Elijah the Prophet calling the future prophet Elisha to follow him. Elijah finds Elisha plowing in a field behind twelve yoke of oxen. Upon being chosen, Elisha asks, “Please, let me kiss my father and mother goodbye and I will follow you.” Elijah pretty much replies, ‘Go ahead, I’m not stopping you.‘ So Elisha leaves, slaughters his oxen and boils their flesh using his plowing equipment for fuel. Then he gives the meat away to his relatives and neighbors and departs to follow Elijah.

If Simon, Andrew, James, and John “immediately” left their boats to follow Jesus (as Matthew’s Gospel says) then what did Mr. Zebedee and the hired men who were left behind do with 60,000 pounds of fish? The city of Capernaum reportedly had a population of about 1,500 back then and the nearby town of Chorazim, perhaps 500 to 1,000. So some of the fish could be sold at market. Some of the fish could be processed and preserved for later through drying and/or salting. But I imagine many of the fish were simply given away or sold for next to nothing. Like Elisha with his neighbors, Jesus calling of the fishermen brought a feast to their community. Answering your calling, embracing your God-given vocation, brings blessings for yourself and others.

For most Christians, God’s calling, their personal vocation, is to marriage. The bride and groom at the wedding feast of Cana were embracing their holy vocations and God abundantly blesses them. Jesus is invited to their wedding and he transforms the contents of six stone jars, roughly 150 gallons of water, into about 1,250 pounds worth of excellent wine, more than enough for their feast. The choice of the fishermen to become “fishers of men,” Elisha’s choice to become a prophet, and the Cana couple’s choice to become man and wife, each in answer to their callings, were marked by overwhelming feasts. These are signs to us about how doing God’s will by embracing our vocations brings joyful blessings for ourselves which overflow for others.

Preaching about vocations typically highlights priesthood and religious life because they are so important, but the vocation of marriage is also extremely important for the sanctification of those called to it and others. You are called to be a saint. If you are married, you are called to help your spouse, and any children you may have, to become saints as well. Your marriage, your family, is meant to sanctify one another and sanctify this world. So pray every single day. Pray for each other in your household. Pray as a couple and pray as a family. Help each other to be holy. Share conversations, books and films, and sacrificial acts with this goal in mind. Speak of your faith and what we believe, enjoy Catholic media which forms and inspires, offer penances and enable each other’s growth in holiness. I would love for all spouses to ask each other: “How can I help you be a saint?” Help each other to be holy and see what blessings flow.

Even if your children have educators elsewhere, you are their foremost teachers. Make your home a school for holiness. And bring your household, as God demands, to his house every weekend for Mass. Jesus calls us to follow and feast with him each week, and all-day Sunday is meant for joy. Make every Sunday’s rest and activities more enjoyable than any weekday, more special than any Saturday. Jesus wants to give you himself, along with a one-day vacation, a fun, full-day to enjoy each week.

Jesus says, “Let the children come to me.” Teach your children about vocations, facilitate their healthy discernment of Christ’s call, and never be an obstacle to God. A parent who resists their child pursuing a priestly or religious vocation by saying, “but I want grandchildren,” risks placing their own wishes ahead of God’s will. Imagine how much blessing might have been lost if James and John’s father or Elisha’s folks had tried convincing their sons not to go. Imagine if Elisha, James, or John had decided not to answer their callings.

Jesus says, “Do not be afraid.” No one will find a greater, fuller life than embracing their God-given vocation. A surgeon may save a thousand lives throughout a long career, and that is a wonderful thing, but all of those patients will eventually go on to die. The life’s work of a priest or religious sister or brother can save a thousand souls, bestowing eternal life in heaven. Saints and families of saints, are what our world needs and what we are all called to be. I challenge you to recognize and embrace your own God-given vocation. Answer Christ’s call, to follow him or to go deeper, and then behold his feast of blessings.

One Response to “Divine Callings & Accompanying Feasts”

  1. pussywillowpress Says:

    Awesome :)!

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