Fr Bob Writes – February 7, 2016

Fr Denny Dempsey has a very interesting commentary for this Sunday’s gospel passage about the call of Peter by Jesus. This is what he says:

“Why would Jesus get into (Peter’s) boat? Doing so gave him a bit of distance from the crowd in a place where he could more easily be seen and heard by everyone.. you probably know how well sound can skip across water. Jesus also had an ulterior motive. He would have Peter and Andrew as a captive crowd while he preached. He had probably heard about them and had his eye on them as potential disciples. He was going to put their willingness to follow his guidance to the test.

Peter would naturally be a bit reluctant to lower the nets. He knew daytime fishing was not that great, that they would have to wash and dry the nets again, and they would be delayed in getting the boat into use for hauling cargo. Nevertheless, he did as Jesus had asked. This was a strong indication for Jesus, who then gave Peter and his companions the sign of the great catch. Fishermen needed two boats to spread the nets. They managed their business, took out loans for boats, and were licensed to fish the lake through syndicates which is why Peter had partners.

“Leaving everything” to follow Jesus did not mean abandoning their boats. Peter and his partners would still have to cover their expenses, pay off their loans, maintain licensing, and provide work for the crew of between six and ten other men whose families depended on their fishing jobs. Their decision to follow Jesus took all those things into account, kept the business going while they dedicated their time to Jesus, and assured that the boats would be available for their use whenever Jesus needed them for transportation around the lake. The decision to follow Christ today likewise requires that one be responsible to family and other obligations while somehow dedicating one’s life and possessions to the service of God. 

Can you see your everyday work as an opportunity to serve God rather than something mundane and unrelated to building up the kingdom of God? Peter had to face that challenge, and, initially, not able to put the two together, asked Jesus to depart from him. Jesus would convince Peter otherwise and turn his fishing experience into a means of fulfilling his mission. “

Fr Bob Writes – January 31, 2016

The gospel this weekend is a continuation of the story from last Sunday where Jesus reads these following words from the prophet Isaiah and declares they apply to him:

`The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to the captives, to set the oppressed free, to declare a year of favour from the Lord`

These words are an excellent description of what the gift of mercy looks like. Remembering that we are still in the Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis and beginning last December 8th, here are some more words from our pope about the role of the Church in being an agent of God`s mercy. They were given during an address on March 6th, 2014:

`Today, we can think of the Church as a `field hospital`. Excuse me, but I repeat it, because this is how I see it, how I feel it is: a `field hospital`. Wounds need to be treated, so many wounds! So many wounds! There are so many people that are wounded by material problems, by scandals, also in the Church…People wounded by the world`s illusions…

  Mercy first means treating the wounds. When someone is wounded, he needs this immediately, not tests, such as the level of cholesterol and one`s glycemic index…Specialized treatments can be done, but first we need to treat the open wounds.

 I think this is what is most important at this time. And there are also hidden wounds, because there are people who distance themselves in order to avoid showing their wounds closer.“

Reflection: Ask yourself what wounds you see around you, who is hurting and who has distanced themselves from you or others. Ask yourself what you can do to respond to them with mercy immediately.




Father Bob Writes – January 24, 2015

“Jesus stood up to read and the scroll of the Prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” …Then Jesus began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

We have all encountered “aha” moments in our lives, when something is seen or heard or read, and we have an instant clarity and certainty where we cry out “Yes!! This is for me. This is what I am all about!!” It may be the moment when we meet the person we are meant to marry. Or the moment when we realize we have a vocation to the priesthood or religious life, or discover our life’s mission.

Jesus encounters his “aha” moment when he reads the words of the prophet Isaiah and understands intuitively and instantaneously that he is reading the vision God has for his life on earth. He is sent by God to minister to the poor and broken and disregarded people in society. He is to proclaim to them that God knows them and loves them and wants to bless them, to lift them up out of their positions of rejection and contempt, and restore their nobility and dignity in God’s eyes. From now on in Luke’s gospel, we will see Jesus moving steadily forward to fulfill this goal. He has found God’s vision for his life.

Matthew Kelly, in his book “Rediscovering Catholicism” speaks of the supreme importance of each of us finding God’s vision for our life. He quotes Proverbs 29:18 which says, “Where there is no vision, the people will perish” and goes on to say (Page 16): “I have found this to be true in every area of life. In a country where there is no vision, the people will perish. In a marriage where is no vision, people will perish. In a business, a school, or a family where there is no vision, the people will perish.” The same is true of a parish or a church. This is why I have worked from my first days here to spell out what God wants to see  when he looks at the parish of St Philip’s and the mission parish of St Clare’s. To paraphrase Matthew Kelly, he wants to see parish communities that are striving with all their might to become the best version of themselves that they can be. In earlier days, we would have described this as the call to be holy, to be saints.

However we describe it, the reality is the same. Each of us has to be asking themselves every day, “Lord, what can I do today with your help to become more and more the best version of myself that I can be?” Without that vision before us, we will surely perish.