10 January 2011

Return to the Ordinary

With the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord, we conclude the Christmas season and return to the green hues of ordinary time. If we listen carefully to the Gospel, however, we can be sure that there is nothing ordinary about the days between the Christmas season and Lent.

Today's familiar account of Jesus calling the fisherman is a call to all of us. Jesus may not appear in person at our workplace -- as he showed up on the shores of the sea of Galilee -- but he may come to us in other ways and ask us to leave behind something and, with him, to seek other shores. Perhaps we have a bad habit that we have been meaning to break or maybe we have slipped into a pattern of behaving which is comfortable but unhealthy. From time to time we may come to realize that our response to that cranky neighbor or our avoidance of that annoying aunt is not exactly how we are called to follow Christ. Like the disciples who were called to leave their nets -- their familiar livelihood -- we are called to leave behind those things in our life which keep us from following Christ closely.

When we, like the disciples, are "mending our nets" and we find that we are suddenly beckoned by the voice of a friend, a family member, our conscience, a sentence in the Gospel, a passage in our spiritual reading, etc., let us stop and listen. Perhaps we are being called to leave behind something that has, over time, become an easy pattern of behavior. Listening to and participating in office gossip might have seemed a bit uncomfortable at first, but when left unexamined for long enough, it can become surprisingly comfortable. Standing on the shores of this "comfort zone" we may hear the Lord inviting us to leave behind the nets that can trap us in ways we might never expect. During these "ordinary days" let us listen extraordinarily carefully to the voice of the Lord, inviting us to follow Him ever more closely, each day.

"After you have made this self-examination, confer with some holy director as to your shortcomings and their remedies . . . and above all, place yourself in the Presence of God, and earnestly ask His Grace to confirm you and keep you steadfast in His Holy Love and Service."
St. Francis de Sales

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