Thursday, January 19, 2012

"Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men."

This Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012 , 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, we have the call of the first Apostles. Mark gets down to business fast, here in only verse sixteen of his Gospel we find Jesus calling Simon and his brother Andrew and then having gone on a little further He calls the sons of Zebedee, James and John. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

"This is the time of fulfillment."

Mark wastes no time in pointing out the implications of the public mission of Jesus in Galilee. All the hopes and dreams of Israel are about to be realized. Jesus proclaims: "This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand."

To live in the expectation of that fulfillment is to live in the bittersweet world of promise. What we hope for is still awaited, and that is painful. But, Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B. assures us, we also live in joyful expectation of what will be, and that is comforting beyond words. When it comes to the kingdom of God, “Now is the time”, Jesus tells us. Fr. Orly Sapuay, MS says that means Discipleship, the following of Jesus, and reconciliation is here and now.

A Call to Repentance

This Sunday's readings speak about repentance, explains Fr. Phil Bloom. We hear Jonah calling the Assyrians to repentance. And Jesus begins his public ministry with similar urgency.

So what does Jesus Christ demand of us today? Repentance, conversion. Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB says our Saviour demands a turning away from our own ideas about how God's Kingdom should operate and a turning toward belief in Christ's teaching and example about God's Kingdom that is among us here and now. And Father Cusick says it is in His Church where we meet Christ as Redeemer.

A Call to Discipleship

In both the First Reading and the Gospel, people are given a direct invitation to do God’s will. Fr. John Foley, S. J. points out that when Jesus called Simon and Andrew, James and John, he also calls you and me. He did not call us to do something. He called us to be something. He called us to be disciples. God wants us to go on a further journey. And just like those first Apostles, Fr. Alex McAllister, SDS says we want to respond and immediately follow the Lord on this new deeper journey even though we might not know where it will lead.

Fr. Ron Rolheiser reminds us how we often struggle to have a personal relationship with Jesus, to pray to him, and to have him as our confidant. Do do we run away from Jesus or towards Him? Either way you will have suffering, explains Fr. John Foley, S. J.. But he assures us that either way God will keep after us, pulling us out from fishy entrails, pushing us, pulling us over and over, to learn in our flesh what love is really about.

Thus like diamonds, we are transformed from being children of darkness to children of the light. And this, Fr. John J. Ludvik says, is the reality of every human journey. We need to be transformed to radiate the light of Christ to others. This way, God’s call will have a profound effect not just upon us, but upon others.

It's March For Life Monday

On January 22, 1974, the first March for Life was held on the West Steps of the U.S. Capitol. An estimated 20,000 committed pro-life Americans rallied that day on behalf of our preborn brothers and sisters. Thirty years later, abortion remains a scourge in our society. Planned Parenthood reports that its operations alone was responsible for 329,455 abortions in the last 12 months. They received $487.4 million in tax dollars over the same twelve-month period.

As sad as these staggering numbers portray, America's sentiment today is markedly more pro-life than the generation that came before. The March For Life event scheduled for Monday, Jan. 23, 2012, in every major city across the country is expected to draw millions. Liberal mainstream media is spinning this event as a non-event. By reporting that events like Walk For Life don’t change minds, columnist Gibbons J. Cooney say the mainstream media is ignoring the history of pro-life converts. One who such marcher will be housewife Barbara Curtis. She explains in her blog post how she's "grown up and changed".

A new study reports that younger voters, especially women, are embracing a pro-life position in surprising numbers and in sharp contrast to attitudes that held sway just 15 years ago. Opinion polls likewise show a shift in the views of Generation Y. This group -- the 60 million people born between the late ’70s and the late ’90s -- affirms that our country has become more pro-life than “pro-choice.” And what could be fueling this turn-around? The internet and the new media has been playing a key role in turning the tide against the culture of death. Even the Vatican says the presence of Catholics online is ‘essential’ to the Church.

"Respect Life" Challenges for Catholic Families

Sexting, drugs, alcohol, cyber-bullying, teen suicide, rampant materialism, technology addiction, and me-first mindsets – the list of challenges to young people today can seem overwhelming. How do you raise independent Catholic kids in an age of conformity? Randy Hain and his wife are on the front lines of a never-ending war for the very souls of their children. They share their story.

The challenges to the traditional family are just as daunting. Fathers are specifically being challenged by the Church to lead their families in Godly Fatherhood. Especially in the face of recent news that only 51% of people over the age of 18 in the United States are married. Single parenthood, single households and cohabitation have become more popular.

Catholic blogger Crescat is one such single parent. Her advise to women who may find themselves debating abortion? Being a single mother is not the worst thing out there. God's love is for everyone. Fr. John Zuhlsdorf says even for those couples living together ‘married’ without an annulment of a previous marriage. He explains why the Pope says they are “not excluded from the love of the Church or from the love of Christ.”

Spiritual But Not Religious

Many Catholics think that provided they aren’t going against the 10 Commandments that they are in the clear. But there are a number of ways to participate in someone else’s sin. In fact, there are nine ways that a person can participate in another’s sin. We list them and relate them to Abortion for more emphasis.

Which brings us to a viral video that has been circulating on YouTube called “I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus Christ.” Spiritual but not Religious. Father Longenecker calls this "claptrap." He writes that saying you're spiritual but not religious is like saying you love food, but hate cooking. Taking itake it further, he says, "You love food but hate cooking? That means you can't be bothered to learn to cook." Can a person really be one and not the other? Sr. Margaret J. Obrovac, FSP offers her thoughts as welll in her blog.

Here's one from a reader asking about a neighbor's Bible Study. He writes: "Our 8 year old daughter has been invited to a Bible Study (non denomination; ie., non Catholic) put on by a neighbor (husband & wife team) every Thursday. Should I let my daugfhter go?" Mark Shea offers sound advice may of you will find very enlightening and useful.

And this one could be the "Don't Miss Video of the Year." Seriously. We tend to forget that others are broken, in need of love, vulnerable, and searching. The pain, fear, and experiences that the people in this video share, is perfectly put together, in the midst of walking down a school hall and forgetting that all of us are human. We need one another and I for one take others for granted too often. It was created by a class of Alabama middle school students.

In closing, we ask you to help our ministry. Please support our Help-A-Parish Catholic Appeal. We are giving away 100 free Catholic websites to financially-strapped parishes in the U.S. But we can make this happen only if you, our readers, help us. Please prayerfully consider a donation to our charity drive.

Another eventful week in our Catholic World. Have a great and blessed new week.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief
BURNING QUESTION: Sanctity of Life - "Protection of Life or Celebration of Life?"
FEATURED BLOG: Spiritual but Not Religious
PASTORAL HISPANA: Cuando Dios nos llama implica compromiso

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  1. Hi, Wally.

    Actually, my article in California Catholic Daily was a refutation of the column you described.

    Gibbons J. Cooney

  2. Thank for the correction, Gibbons. I have rectified the error. God bless.

    1. You too, Wally. Pray for us this weekend!