January 11th, 2021

The Gospel according to Mark 1:14-20

After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the Gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Then they left their nets and followed him. He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him.

Opening Prayer: Lord, I come before you as I am, with the gifts you have given me, aware of my weaknesses and dependent on you. Help me see the world the way you see it and to love accordingly.

Encountering Christ: “Fisher of Men”, this really hits home for me from a couple of viewpoints. One, I have been an avid fisherman for most of my life and two, I work for homeless men at a place called Mary’s Village which is a Transitional Living facility in San Bernardino. 

Mary’s Village is a place where the men can be at peace, while having a place to lay their heads and a place to fill their belly. “We joke about this being a place where you can sleep with both eyes closed” and that isn’t far from the truth. I have heard numerous stories of the men getting mugged and robbed while living on the streets. At Mary’s Village, we also teach them life skills so they move forward in life, so we customize their programs to accomplish specific goals such as education, employment, responsibilities etc. Their personal stories that I hear from them are tragic and it’s no wonder they are in this situation. But I have realized that they are also training me, opening my eyes, and helping me to understand their world. Just like today’s scripture, all of these men still BELIEVE in God and carry Bibles. They are not mad at God for what they have encountered but are grateful because God helped them get to The Village. WOW! 

I have been fishing mostly in the Eastern Sierras for over 50 years, and there was a time when all I wanted to do was fish and didn’t recognize the beauty that surrounded me. I fished until I dropped and that was all that mattered. Today, when I visit the trout streams, I see scripture all around me. I see the “shoots of Jesse”; “roots to the water”; the high mountains; etc.  My life is consumed by this beauty and I am haunted by all my surroundings. From the pebbles in the river to the boulders in the ground; there are no two alike. And then I think that they represent Our Lord, Our Rock and Our foundation. Henry David Thoreau says, “Many men go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after”. 

When I go fishing, I take all my gear including a small Bible and a rosary. These are tools that are necessary for me when I fish. I say this because I now take the time to sit by the river and read and pray and meditate. Sometimes that leads to some of the greatest naps I have ever had. I recall a time I took some good friends with me. I told them I will be walking downstream for a couple of miles and I will see them at lunch. At some point, after fishing a few hours, I decided to sit under this old oak tree that had high grass under it. I thought that I would lay on top of the grass and take a nap and did I ever. The next thing I remember is waking up to a slight drizzle hitting me in the face but when I woke up, I realized my two buddies (one on each side of me) were sleeping right next to me. I guess you can say that they were baptized by the river. 

My brothers and sisters, we are born in the image of God who is our creator, we are also called to create goodness and love and friendship in that very same image.  

Closing Prayer: Lord, you are great indeed, and holy is your name. Thank you for this time with you. Help me to trust you, love you above all things, and follow you according to your holy will. Never let me be separated from you.

Action of the Day: Today by your grace I will entrust my work to you, and consciously offer my labor as a sacrifice of love for those dearest to me and to that stranger I have been talking to.

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