Sunday, January 22, 2012

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time; And the Fish Tale of Towards and Away

Readings for January 22, 2012, Third Sunday in Ordinary Time 2012:

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time 2012

By Deacon Lawrence N. Kaas
January 22, 2012

Every once in a while one comes across a story that's so bad that it has to be shared. That happened to me on Friday of this week as I was reading a commentary that supposedly is appropriate for this weekend. Story goes something like this. A fisherman and his wife were blessed with twin sons. They loved the children so very much it, but couldn't think of what to name them. Finally after several days, the fisherman said, "let us not decided on names right now. If we wait a little while the names will simply occur to us."

After several weeks had passed, the fisherman and his wife noticed a peculiar fact. When left alone, one of the boys would turn toward the sea, while the other boy would face inland. It didn't matter which way the parents position the children, the same child always face the same direction -- one faced toward the sea and the other face the away. "That's it," said the fisherman. "Let's name the boys Towards and Away, since one boy is always looking towards the sea and the other is always looking away." His wife agreed, and from that point on, the boys were simply known as Towards and Away.

The years passed and the lads grew tall and strong. The day came when the fisherman said to his sons, "boys, it is time that you learned how to make a living from the sea." They provisioned their ship and said their goodbyes, and set sail for a three-month voyage.

But something happened. Three whole years passed by. The fisherman's wife feared that all three of her men had been lost at sea, however, one day the grieving woman saw a man walking toward her house, she recognized him as her husband.

"My goodness, what has happened to my darling boys? She cried. The ragged fisherman begin to tell his story. "We were barely one whole day out to sea when Toward hooked into a great fish. Towards fought long and hard, but the fish was more than his equal. For a whole week they wrestled upon the waves without either of them giving up. Eventually the great fish started to win the battle, and Towards was pulled over the side of our ship, he was swallowed whole, and we never saw either him or the fish again." "Oh dear, that must've been terrible," said his wife. "What a huge fish that must've been!"

"Yes, it was, "said the fisherman, but you should have seen the one that got Away."

I told you it was bad. But maybe in a small way does fit the story of Jonah and the whale in our first reading. You see, Jonah was given a mission by God to go to the Ninevites to seek their repentance. This in order that they might be saved from extermination. Which I think you could read the story and find that Jonah really would have like to see this happen because he didn't like them. But in this story we find not only the mission that God has given Jonah but also God's great mercy. What was required was repentance and as the people repented God's anger was lifted and instead of extermination they were saved.

A point may be raised as to how all of this fits together in what we call ordinary time. As I was making my rounds on Monday I would ask the people what was ordinary about ordinary time and I really did not get much of an answer but it caused me do some thinking the over the course of this week.

Maybe it would help if we would recall father's family from last week. You remember he talked about vocations. Which as I was thinking about this, brought up another question. So what is the mission of a vocation whether it is religious life Priesthood Diaconate married or single. In other words what is the purpose in your vocation. It turns out in the case of Noah that his mission was to bring salvation to the Ninevites. So the question I think needs to be asked of you, of me, of Father for that matter, what is your mission. I'm sure some of you remember that our Diocese has a Mission Statement, do you know what it says? I suspect even our parish has mission statement, do you know what it is? I look at you and me and father and asked again what is your mission statement, what is your purpose.

Wouldn't it be a good idea if each one of us as members of a family would get together and write a mission statement for that family. What is the purpose of this family. We are all wise enough to know that the family is so central to everything that is church, nation, community, that each family should have an idea what the purpose of that family is. It cannot simply be to get rich, and to live high off the hog, as we used to say. It must have a broader meaning that would indicate the reality of that families mission. Wouldn't it be a good idea to get the family together and brainstorm that idea. And finally maybe even write it out on a white board or bulletin board with all the members of the family signing that mission statement. You might then, ask me, your Deacon what is your mission statement, why do you think I am your Deacon? First of all I think we have to recognize the fact that once a man is ordained he is no longer alone in the sense that he is only accountable to himself. I as Deacon am ordained for you the people: and therefore you can truly say that in a real sense you own me, as your Deacon, so I must live a lifestyle that is a good example to you and the church as a whole. In a real sense then I belong to you. In the same fashion each member of the family belongs to that family and because of that union each member should know the purpose of the family to which they belong.

Simply put, each one of us must understand that we are not alone. We are a member of a family: in some cases it is an adopted family, but nevertheless we are not alone. And as these families come together on a Sunday weekend they join together to form a parish family. Therefore, each family taking part in the parish community has a responsibility to that community to fulfill the mission given to that parish by Almighty God.

What this all means is that each one of us has a mission to fulfill inside our vocations. Post that mission statement for the whole family to see. And see that mission statement as a challenge to fulfill the vocation that God is calling you to.

Then you will begin to see that when you were baptized as priest Prophet and King. This baptism then makes you fishers of men. As were Simon, Andrew, James and John, from the Gospel today, whose mission truly was to fish for men!
'Thank you' to Deacon Kaas, for letting me post his reflection here.
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