From the Pastor's Desk   
 
"Come Follow me"
 
Simon (Peter) and Andrew were doing their daily routine and work – fishing. And Jesus walked by and changed their lives, and perhaps ours as well. Jesus called and they said yes. Peter could have said something like, “Hey, man, we like you, you seem like a wise fellow, but we have jobs to do. We have families to support. We can’t just drop everything and run off with you.” Thanks be to God, he said yes instead.
 
Today we hear of calls in every reading: calls of repentance, calls of conversion, calls to follow, calls of discipleship.
 
Jonah (First Reading) must have been a very powerful preacher – after only one day of preaching in the streets, people took his words to heart and repented with sacrifice and prayer. Jesus (Gospel) called disciples, not so much with powerful preaching (though he certainly did that, as witness the huge crowds that gathered to hear him), but by his life, by the power of his heart, by his love and compassion. Jesus called disciples committed to his mission, to build up the Kingdom of God on earth. In between (Second Reading) we hear from Paul, whose life was changed on the road to Damascus. Paul tells us not to dawdle, life is short (I never dreamed 70+ years could fly by so fast), act now. 
 
The reading of Mark’s Gospel begins today and continues through the Sundays of Ordinary Time. They are interrupted, of course, by Lent and Easter time. 
 
If there is a common thread in the readings, it is probably that it is never too late to change. One author writes: Nineveh had long since fallen at the time the book of Jonah was written, but was still synonymous in people’s minds with cruelty and oppression. The idea that its people ever would have repented was unimaginable. But the author insists we imagine it. Not only do they repent of their horrible deeds, they do so dramatically, donning sackcloth and fasting. So complete is their conversion that God promptly relents. God forgives even the most heinous crimes. Of the repentant sinner, we might add. God wants us to want to be forgiven. Monday the Church celebrates the Conversion of St. Paul. Today we hear his warning, “Time is running out.” He pleads with his listeners to change, to immediately do the opposite of whatever they are presently doing. He absolutely believed that hearing the Gospel should turn people’s lives around about face. “For now is the time of fulfillment,” he proclaimed. “The Kingdom of God is at hand.” Paul expected all who experienced Christ to reorient their lives, to totally change their perspective. Paul calls us to conversion. And remember, he was talking to the Church, to those who had already said yes to Christ’s call. Even we faithful worshipers in the Church need conversion, to turn more fully to Christ, to more fully imitate him.
 
It isn’t hard to imagine what life was like for the four fishermen we hear about today in the Gospel. Most days were spent out on the Sea of Galilee (also known as Lake of Genezareth) where they caught (or failed to catch) fish that they would sell in the market-place. Then they would spend some amount of time cleaning their nets and preparing them for the next day’s labor. Finally, they would go home to their families, to do it all over again the next day. But when Jesus called them, their whole routine changed dramatically. One writer states, “Every bit of it (their previous lives) paled in importance to spending every minute of every day with the one who changes the world.” Moreover, they accepted the call to change the world, to become “fishers of men.” And, oh, how different life was following Jesus. Not necessarily easier, but certainly more full of life, more full of faith, hope and joy. Oh, that we would allow the Lord to “catch” us in his net! How full is our life of discipleship? 
 
As I mentioned earlier, Monday is the Feast Day of St. Paul. Some folks think that Jesus miraculously turned St. Paul from an evil man to a good man. That is not the case. Paul was very committed to his faith of Judaism. He persecuted Christians because they were abandoning the faith he held so rigorously. He felt that in turning away from the faith of their past, they were turning away from God. And they had to be stopped. Jesus showed him a new path and he became just as committed and rigorous in his faith in Christ as he had previously shown in his former religion . Paul wasn’t an evil man made good, but a misguided, rigid man made Christian. And what a great Christian he became! The Church’s most tireless preacher. Thanks be to God for his conversion.
 Fr. Bob              
      
 
“Dear Padre” page courtesy of:
Mahn Funeral Home
Peaceful Ridge Cemetery
Mausoleum - Monuments - Cremation
900 Main & Mahn Ave - De Soto, MO 63020 - 636-586-2288/515 Collins Ave.-Festus, MO 63028 - 636-937-4444 
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