From the Pastor's Desk  
“We are called,
we are chosen, we are . . .”
  
During most of Ordinary Time this liturgical year we will hear from Matthew’s Gospel. Matthew has two main themes: first, Jesus is the one who fulfills all the prophecies of the Old Testament, second, the call to discipleship. Matthew lays out the genealogy of Jesus to show that Jesus is assuredly of the house of David. Then he gives specifics about the birth of Jesus; born of a virgin, born in the city of Bethlehem, later to come out of Egypt, and grow up in Nazareth. Matthew announces the baptism of Jesus and says that after it he went to Galilee, to the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, fulfilling the prophecies of Isaiah. Thus, it is not a coincidence that the first reading (nearly every Sunday since the beginning of December) has been from the Prophet Isaiah. Matthew wrote primarily for a Jewish community, aware that they would know something of the ancient prophecies and would see in Jesus the fulfillment of them. Matthew trusts that Simon and Andrew, James and John would already recognize Jesus as such, as well. Therefore, they are able to abandon their jobs and livelihood “at once” and follow Jesus and the new calling that he offers.
 
Only after they are called does Jesus begin his mission: preaching and healing, and proclaiming the Kingdom of God. Matthew reasons, I suspect, that Isaiah has given them clues as to what Jesus would do: as the Light in a land overshadowed by death, as the one who would glorify the road between Jewish and Gentile lands, who would proclaim Good News of abundant joy, and destroy the burdens of sickness and disease, healing all who are caught in their grip. Jesus first wanted disciples!
 
However, before we hear the Gospel of the great “yes” of the apostles to the call of Jesus, we hear from the Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians, decrying the divisions and rivalries within the Church in Corinth. He reminds them that they all have said yes to Christ, no matter through whom they heard his call. He reminds them that they are ultimately not disciples of Paul, or Cephas, or Apollos, but of the one who was crucified for them, Jesus Christ and in him there can be no division. Christ transcends all human leaders.
 
Today we contemplate the mission to which we are called and pray that we can know and fulfill the plan God has for us. 
 
I believe that every one of us is called. How do we know? And how do we know how to respond?
 
It’s not as if Jesus walked right up to us and said “come, follow me.” And yet, sometimes it is. In my own case, more than once I had someone ask me, “Have you ever thought of being a priest?” I usually dismissed the question without much thought. But every once in a while I pondered why someone would ask me that. Were they being prompted by the Holy Spirit? The most dramatic utterance came from a girl I really thought I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. She bluntly said, “I can’t marry you, all you ever talk about is being a priest!” That hurt and shocked me to the core. She was more aware of what my own heart was telling me than I was. 
 
How does God call? I believe God nudges us in all kinds of ways. Some we might expect — through the prayer and preaching of the Church, through hearing and reading Scripture, through personal prayer. Some are much less obvious — the comments from others, even strangers, from a TV show, even a commercial, through “coincidences”(?!). But it takes reflection upon these nudges to realize the point of the message. And first we must believe that God does speak to us. And it doesn’t hurt to talk back. Conversation with God, also called prayer, is essential. 
 
  Fr. Bob
 
 
 
MAHN 
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