Sunday, November 29, 2015

Becoming fishers of men

St. Andrew the Apostle
I was ordained a priest on the Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle. I consider it a great honor to be ordained on this feast because St. Andrew was one of the first to the called by the Lord. As he walked by the shore of the Sea of Galilee, the Lord Jesus saw the brothers Peter and Andrew casting their nets. To them he gave the invitation: Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men. I like those words "fishers of men". The Lord called them and myself to become "fishers of men." The work of fishermen is really very simple. All they had to do was cast the net into the sea and haul into the boat whatever is caught in that net. I realize that my job as a priest is simply to cast the net and haul in what is caught. The Lord called me to be a fisher of men, not a member of a screening committee. All I have to do is to keep the Church door open and welcome anyone who enters through it. It is not my job to screen people and decide who should be deemed worthy to enter the Church and who should not. When a person finds his way to the Church, he has not done it on his own, Rather, it was the Father who called that person to approach his only begotten Son. It was the Holy Spirit moving in his soul. The fisherman simply casts his net and does not determine which fish should be caught in it. He hauls into his boat whatever the net catches. My task as fisher of men is to welcome those who find their way into the Church. It is not even my task to convert them or to touch their hearts. That is the work of the Holy Spirit.  Only the Holy Spirit can convert hearts. Only He can change lives. Only He can sanctify sinners. Only He can deify men. And I am not the Holy Spirit. I can only cast my net by preaching. Whatever happens to those who listen to what I preach is not within my control. I can only cast the net by celebrating the sacraments. Whatever happens to those who receive the sacraments is no longer my turf. Moving hearts, converting lives, sanctifying sinners, deifying men...all these are the work of the Holy Spirit. I can only cast the nets and nothing more,