Ascension Church

Homily, Jan. 21, 2018


I. Back at St. Philip’s Grade School, I regularly got C’s in Art class. Seems I wasn’t very good at creating something out of nothing. That’s what God displays in today’s gospel: the art of making something out of nothing. Barbara Brown Taylor writes that, while the four fishermen who dropped everything to follow Jesus are praiseworthy, the real story is about the miracle that Jesus works: he creates faith where there was none, and makes disciples where, just a moment before, there were none. Jesus shows up, they take one look at him, and the rest is history. So compelling is Jesus’ voice, his call, that they don’t fix on what they’re leaving, but on whom they’re joining: not on what is lost, but what is found. In their turning to follow, their lives begin to flow in the same direction as God’s, their wills spill into His. They become other Christs: a miracle.


II. Almost every activity of our lives is measured by how talented we are, whether we’re good enough, strong enough. But to be a disciple, to be another Christ, is not a matter of being strong enough, but weak enough: willing to accept our limitations and allow another to sustain and empower us, so that God’s grace can be seen in us, His movements manifest through us. We need to be weak enough to allow our wills to spill into the will of God. The Christians who fascinate us, those most effective “fishers of people”—Pope Francis, Blessed Oscar Romero, Martin Luther King, Jr.—are moved by a Spirit quite beyond their own.


III. We are here because, like those first four disciples, we have found Jesus and his message compelling. Imperfect though we may be, we are disciples of Jesus Christ. Cardinal Newman writes,

God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me that He has not committed to another…I shall do good. I shall do His work…If I am in sickness, let my sickness serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve him.

We might add, “If I am depressed, may my depression serve him; let my addiction, my cancer, my fear serve him; let my powerlessness serve him.” “I have my mission,” Newman says, “I have a part in a great work.”
h/t: Michael Buckley