Sunday, February 7, 2016

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor 

Quote of the Week: “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, there will be true peace” — Sufi Wisdom.

The “call” to follow Jesus is a mysterious and holy thing.

Although we would probably discover many common things about the call, it is completely personal, intimate, and individual — the call comes to me, and I answer the call.

The call to vocation is another and more specific call of faith. It is in this calling that one chooses a specific way of life as a priest, deacon, or religious.

As a parish, it is important that we strongly support and encourage a “listening to the call” among members of our community. Vocations come from families and communities of faith.

The uniqueness and mystery of the call is shared in today’s scriptures.

Isaiah describes his calling in classic form. There is a theophany, or some kind of appearance of God, that is “earth shaking” and involves the “elements.”

He sees, not clearly, but something of God’s throne and cries out: “Woe is me, I am doomed!”

This — because human has encountered the divine — is too much to experience without death itself following; however, the experience cleanses and purifies Isaiah. Through it all, he somehow “hears” God calling him and he answers without hesitation: “Here I am, send me!”

In the Gospel, Peter has just experienced Jesus’ healing of his mother-in-law a few verses before. He, with his own eyes, has seen the power of Jesus and knows there is more to Jesus than meets the eye.

Then, at the shore of the lake after a night of fishing with no results, Peter and the others were washing their nets and Jesus tells him to go out a short distance from the shore and lower the nets yet again. Peter makes sure that Jesus knows that he, a fisherman, has been at it all night without success and that he, a fisherman, knows when to quit.

The catch, however, is astounding.

Why did Peter “listen” to Jesus? He had already seen a bit of Jesus’ power with his mother-in-law. There was something unique, power-full, grace filled, God-like about this Jesus.

Through it all, Peter experienced a grace-filled moment in his weak and doubting nature and uttered: “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”

But Jesus did not depart nor did he see anything less in Peter. It is here, in this moment, in weakness and doubt, that Peter experiences the “call.”

Jesus casts out fear. Jesus reaches into the vulnerable and unguarded soul of Peter. Jesus deepens his relationship with Peter.

It is here, too, that we can expect to hear God’s call again and again. It is probably here, too, that men and women of this parish, in this moment of time, in these circumstances, in doubt and fear, that some — perhaps many — will hear the “call” of Jesus Christ to follow as priests, deacons, and religious.

We encourage, support and pray for the call to be heeded!

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112.

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