Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
January 21, 2018
It’s true what they say. In retirement, you often feel busier than when you were working. And while “senior status priests” do not experience retirement in the conventional sense, being relieved of parish duties and responsibilities does not mean loads of free time with nothing to do.
So when, out of the blue, I got a phone call asking if I would consider stepping in mid-year to fill an unexpected vacancy and teach theology at Nouvel Catholic Central High School…my IMMEDIATE response was…I simply don’t have the time! And that really was the truth. But, before the conversation ended, I found myself agreeing to meet with the principal to “discuss” the situation. A few days later, as I was walking up the sidewalk to the front doors of the school, it occurred to me that this was the only “interview” I had ever gone to that I was hoping and praying that I did not get the job.
I started teaching on Thursday of this past week!
As the news got around that I was a temporary/part time faculty member, more than one person reacted by saying things like: What were you thinking? Did you forget you’re retired? And then there was the more colorful reaction: Have you lost your mind? You’re going to kill yourself. In fact, even my doctors expressed some reservations and concerns.
Why did I agree? The Readings for this 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time are my best explanation.
St. Paul begins the Second Reading with an alarming note: I tell you, brothers and sisters, the time is running out. You can feel the sense of urgency in those words. As I approach the BIG 7-0, it dawns on me how true those words are. My time to live out my baptismal responsibility by passing on our Catholic faith to the next generation is indeed coming to an end. And so, I came to see the unexpected call about the teaching position not so much a “job offer” as a call to discipleship. In other words, it occurred to me that this was one more opportunity to do my duty as a follower of Jesus Christ. And so, it was an offer I really couldn’t refuse. In a very real way, it was the exact invitation that Jesus extended to Peter, Andrew, James, and John. And they found that they couldn’t refuse, to the point of leaving everything and IMMEDIATELY following Jesus.
So, this past Thursday, I went fishing for souls…this time in a high school!
All three Readings this weekend carry a note of urgency. In the work of salvation, there is no time to discuss, consider, interview, and decide. And there are no acceptable excuses. Discipleship should always be given a priority. And when the opportunity to bring someone to Christ presents itself, IMMEDIATE action is called for. The very kind of urgent response that the Prophet Jonah demonstrated in our First Reading is what is needed. And our lack of preparedness, or skill…or time should not be a concern. When Jesus calls, He sees in us what He saw in four ordinary fishermen…the ability to help save the world.
And so, my prayer for you this weekend is that when an opportunity comes your way…you won’t react as I initially did…but IMMEDIATELY accept the invitation to serve.