Thursday, March 9, 2017

Fishing Men Out of Darkness

Jesus, I trust in you!

Close to Epiphany, we see the beginnings of the public ministry of the Lord Jesus. He continues to reveal himself to all nations. As through the light of a star he beckoned the magi to himself, so today, he calls to the people beyond the Jordan, the Galilee of the Gentiles. The beginning of his public ministry took place in the land of Zebulun and Naphtali in northern Galilee which was occupied by Assyria. He addresses himself not just to the chosen people of Israel but to all the gentiles, that is, to the entire world: He has glorified the land west of the Jordan, the district of the Gentiles. God has so decided in the past to reveal himself to Israel. It was only to them that he spoke through the prophets. John the Baptist, the last prophet to be sent, preached to the people of Israel. God never sent any prophet to the Gentiles. For a long time, the light of Divine Revelation shone only upon the land of Israel while the rest of the world was kept in darkness. At last, the Lord expands the scope of his light. At last he speaks to the rest of the world: The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death, light has arisen. That Light is Jesus himself, the revelation of God, the visible image of the invisible God. He is Light from Light, true God from true God. He is the Light of the world and no one who follows him will walk in the dark.

He calls his disciples and makes them his partners in the work of saving people. As “fishers of men”, they are to “fish” people out of the dark seas, the abyss, the kingdom of evil. But for them to do this, they must themselves be fished out of that darkness. They must leave the kingdom of evil in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. This can only be done by conversion (metanoia). Conversion means making a radical turning towards the Lord, a full U-turn, turning one’s back to the previous life of darkness in order to live by the light of Jesus. Because Jesus is the Light, if we turn our backs toward him, we shall face our shadow. But if we turn to him, we have our shadows cast behind our backs. Therefore, we have to turn to Jesus and follow him first. We cannot lead people to the light of Jesus if we continue to live in darkness. We cannot liberate (fish) people from darkness if we remained prisoners of darkness ourselves.

In these past days, we have witnessed the outpouring of Filipino devotion to the Lord. Millions joined the procession of the Nazareno. Millions paid homage to the Santo Nino. And yet, we cannot deny that in spite of such fervor of devotion, many of us are still nominal Catholics. Oftentimes, there is a contradiction between our actual lives and our faith in Jesus. This nominal Catholicism is rooted in the absence of true conversion. Conversion is not just sorrow for past sinfulness. It is rebirth (bagong buhay, pagbabalik-loob) in which we allow the Holy Spirit to transform the way we think into the mind of Christ. It is rebirth in which we allow the Holy Spirit to transform our will so that we would desire only to do what Jesus wills. In this rebirth, we allow the word of God to shape our lives. Thus, we should ask ourselves: are we walking in the light of the Lord or are we still living in the shadow of death? Are we living on the side of light and life or are we still sitting in darkness and the shadow of death? Are we preaching the Gospel of life or are we supporting the culture of death? Let us allow ourselves to be enlightened by the Lord. It is by walking in his light that we shall live in the land of the living.

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!


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