What an awesome day at sea! The Apostles went fishing and caught much more than fish. They were the first priests. The boats represent the Church. The great catch is all of us.
When breakfast was over Jesus took the opportunity to heal St. Peter. Peter was the head, the first Pope, the one with the keys to the Kingdom. All of the Apostles had abandoned Jesus. In a sense, they had all denied Him. However, St. Peter had the weight of leadership. He declared that he would never deny Jesus. Yet, we know that he did. In the Resurrection account Peter’s vocation is affirmed, reinstated: “Feed my lambs; Tend my sheep; Feed my sheep.” Obviously, the lambs belong to Christ. When we take care of something which does not belong to us, we use extra care. The lambs are people. All the more reason to proceed with caution. We know how fragile we are, some more than others. How many people do we know who are have been hurt by the Church. Might have been unintentional—a secretary, a fellow parishioner, perhaps a priest—but the perception was that the Church hurt them. The result is that they don’t come back. The majority of the people sitting in fundamental religion churches were baptized Catholics. Regardless of what led them away from the Church, they are still our responsibility. Those lambs need more attention from us than the ones who never left. In many cases, ignorance of the beauty of our Faith is the main reason that they left. Lots of folks do not know how to defend basic truths. Who’s going to teach them? Who’s going to feed the lambs? They are hungry for truth and starving because we don’t have time. The work of Evangelization is not just for priests and religious, but belongs to every baptized Catholic. One of the best ways to evangelize is by invitation. That’s all the Jesus did. He invited people, without a guilt trip, without accusations, without condemnation. Come, follow me.
We take our faith for granted. Faith is a precious gift, never given for us, always to be shared. Catholics are the most tight lipped about what we believe. Yet, having all the right answers will not bring a soul closer to the Church. The way that we treat others is the powerful sermon we can give. Our actions speak louder than words. In a world filled with prejudice, our acts of kindness can make a difference.
We do not have to go put a soapbox on the street corner in order to preach the Gospel. Opportunities come looking for us, beginning with our family. Our love for the Church, our faith that Jesus is present in the Blessed Sacrament, the respect that we have for the magisterium—will have much greater witness than our knowledge of a set of rules. Although we have rules, our Church is not about legislation but about transformation. Building the Kingdom of God is our vocation. First we need to be feed with the Body and Blood of Christ as His lambs. Then we need to be concerned about the ones who are hungry and do not approach the Table. Where are they? Why aren’t they coming? The majority of Church Communities are not concerned about the 99 sheep running around loose. They are part of us, regardless of their reasons for staying away. Like St. Peter, we give Christ a voice, arms and hands to reach out to those who do not know Him. Spread the Word—Jesus Christ is alive and loves us without conditions.
“I don’t feel welcome. I’m divorced. My family does not go to Church.” Whatever the excuse is—there is a solution. The Church is our home. Here we are received with open arms just because we His lambs.