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Bible Reflections View Comments

The Work We Do Every Day
By Diane M. Houdek
Source: Bringing Home the Word
Published: Sunday, April 14, 2013
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Today’s Gospel pulls together themes and echoes of the many stories of Jesus’s ministry in Galilee: the call of the fishermen to be the first disciples, the multiplication of bread and fish to feed the crowds, the miraculous catch of fish, the final meal shared with Jesus before his death, the breaking of the bread on the road to Emmaus. These are significant events, and the writer of John’s Gospel shows us how the apostles needed to deepen their understanding of them.

The resurrection indeed changed everything on a cosmic level, but Peter, John, and the rest were still going out fishing in their boats. So it is with us. It takes a lifetime of living our faith to achieve a real integration of what we do in our everyday lives with what we profess on Sunday.

Jesus’s first followers were fishermen. He called them to leave their nets and follow him, promising that he would make them fishers of people. In the confusion following his death, they returned to their fishing nets, but they didn’t lose the lessons he had taught them, and they were ready to hear his call once again.

Our own daily work can become a deep expression of our faith. Take some time to reflect on the work that you do and how it deepens and manifests your faith in God and how it can allow you to do the work to which God is calling you.

Too often we think that only professional religious people—priests, nuns, theologians, Catholic writers—can preach the good news. But sometimes the professionals are at a disadvantage. They can get bogged down in a specialized language and academic fine points.

Jesus understood this. This is why he focused his parables and actions on the most basic aspects of the daily lives of his listeners and followers. He strove throughout his time on earth to forge a connection between the message he preached and the way people lived that good news in their lives.

At the Last Supper he said, “When you eat and drink, remember me.” In Luke’s Gospel, a stranger walked with the disciples on the road to Emmaus and explained and interpreted the Scriptures for them, but it wasn’t until he broke bread with them that they recognized him as the Lord. Here in John’s Gospel the stranger on the beach, tending a charcoal fire, patiently leads them through their memories of him and his actions and they, too, recognize him as Lord.

We witness a most poignant meeting between Jesus and Peter in today’s Gospel as well. In John’s passion narrative, we last see Peter warming his hands over a charcoal fire in the courtyard, filled with fear and anger. Three times he denies even knowing the man being tried and crucified, the man he swore to give his life to defend. One wonders whether the familiar charcoal fire brought back shameful memories of this denial. Many people interpret this threefold affirmation of his love as a healing of that denial. Healed of his shame, forgiven by the very person he denied, he can go on to live the ministry to which he’s been called.

Service to others is ultimately the manifestation of our love for God and for one another. It’s not about learned discussions or theological distinctions. It’s about showing the depth of God’s love and forgiveness for the people we meet. Jesus knows this. Peter will learn it. So will we.


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Lorenzo Ruiz and Companions: Lawrence (Lorenzo) was born in Manila of a Chinese father and a Filipino mother, both Christians. Thus he learned Chinese and Tagalog from them and Spanish from the Dominicans whom he served as altar boy and sacristan. He became a professional calligrapher, transcribing documents in beautiful penmanship. He was a full member of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary under Dominican auspices. He married and had two sons and a daughter. 
<p>His life took an abrupt turn when he was accused of murder. Nothing further is known except the statement of two Dominicans that "he was sought by the authorities on account of a homicide to which he was present or which was attributed to him." </p><p>At that time three Dominican priests, Antonio Gonzalez, Guillermo Courtet and Miguel de Aozaraza, were about to sail to Japan in spite of a violent persecution there. With them was a Japanese priest, Vicente Shiwozuka de la Cruz, and a layman named Lazaro, a leper. Lorenzo, having taken asylum with them, was allowed to accompany them. But only when they were at sea did he learn that they were going to Japan. </p><p>They landed at Okinawa. Lorenzo could have gone on to Formosa, but, he reported, "I decided to stay with the Fathers, because the Spaniards would hang me there." In Japan they were soon found out, arrested and taken to Nagasaki. The site of wholesale bloodshed when the atomic bomb was dropped had known tragedy before. The 50,000 Catholics who once lived there were dispersed or killed by persecution. </p><p>They were subjected to an unspeakable kind of torture: After huge quantities of water were forced down their throats, they were made to lie down. Long boards were placed on their stomachs and guards then stepped on the ends of the boards, forcing the water to spurt violently from mouth, nose and ears. </p><p>The superior, Antonio, died after some days. Both the Japanese priest and Lazaro broke under torture, which included the insertion of bamboo needles under their fingernails. But both were brought back to courage by their companions. </p><p>In Lorenzo's moment of crisis, he asked the interpreter, "I would like to know if, by apostatizing, they will spare my life." The interpreter was noncommittal, but Lorenzo, in the ensuing hours, felt his faith grow strong. He became bold, even audacious, with his interrogators. </p><p>The five were put to death by being hanged upside down in pits. Boards fitted with semicircular holes were fitted around their waists and stones put on top to increase the pressure. They were tightly bound, to slow circulation and prevent a speedy death. They were allowed to hang for three days. By that time Lorenzo and Lazaro were dead. The three Dominican priests, still alive, were beheaded. </p><p>In 1987, Blessed John Paul II canonized these six and 10 others, Asians and Europeans, men and women, who spread the faith in the Philippines, Formosa and Japan. Lorenzo Ruiz is the first canonized Filipino martyr.</p> American Catholic Blog We don’t have to scrub off our sin so God can love us. Instead, when we allow God’s healing love to touch us, we want to leave sin behind. Growth starts in love, not in guilt.

 
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