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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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Bernard of Clairvaux: Man of the century! Woman of the century! You see such terms applied to so many today—“golfer of the century,” “composer of the century,” “right tackle of the century”—that the line no longer has any punch. But Western Europe's “man of the twelfth century,” without doubt or controversy, has to be Bernard of Clairvaux. Adviser of popes, preacher of the Second Crusade, defender of the faith, healer of a schism, reformer of a monastic Order, Scripture scholar, theologian and eloquent preacher: any one of these titles would distinguish an ordinary man. Yet Bernard was all of these—and he still retained a burning desire to return to the hidden monastic life of his younger days. 
<p>In the year 1111, at the age of 20, Bernard left his home to join the monastic community of Citeaux. His five brothers, two uncles and some 30 young friends followed him into the monastery. Within four years a dying community had recovered enough vitality to establish a new house in the nearby valley of Wormwoods, with Bernard as abbot. The zealous young man was quite demanding, though more on himself than others. A slight breakdown of health taught him to be more patient and understanding. The valley was soon renamed Clairvaux, the valley of light. </p><p>His ability as arbitrator and counselor became widely known. More and more he was lured away from the monastery to settle long-standing disputes. On several of these occasions he apparently stepped on some sensitive toes in Rome. Bernard was completely dedicated to the primacy of the Roman See. But to a letter of warning from Rome, he replied that the good fathers in Rome had enough to do to keep the Church in one piece. If any matters arose that warranted their interest, he would be the first to let them know. </p><p>Shortly thereafter it was Bernard who intervened in a full-blown schism and settled it in favor of the Roman pontiff against the antipope. </p><p>The Holy See prevailed on Bernard to preach the Second Crusade throughout Europe. His eloquence was so overwhelming that a great army was assembled and the success of the crusade seemed assured. The ideals of the men and their leaders, however, were not those of Abbot Bernard, and the project ended as a complete military and moral disaster. </p><p>Bernard felt responsible in some way for the degenerative effects of the crusade. This heavy burden possibly hastened his death, which came August 20, 1153.</p> American Catholic Blog One of the things that we need to remember is that we’re preaching Jesus, not the institutional Church. It’s easy to get caught up in the rules and regulations of the institution and forget that we are saved not by the Church but by the person of Jesus or the Church as the body of Christ.

 
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