Reflections - February 7, 2016

“Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.”  Lk. 5:5.
If we could describe Peter’s words, “we have caught nothing”, we would see reflected in these words, on the one hand, the call of Jesus to serve Him with a radicalized Gospel, “lower your nets”.  On the other hand the frustration of losing an entire night and catching nothing, which is a disbelief of our human condition.
Years ago I went with a priest friend to visit his terminally ill friend in Coral Gables.  It was the era of the beeper, not of the cell yet.  They gave us the address of that family, but time passed and those streets with names frustrated us.  We were always reaching the same place.  So desperate and frustrated, we found a public phone and called to tell them:  “ We are sorry but we have spent a lot of time looking for your house and we are now heading back”.  To our surprise someone answered our phone call saying:  “You are bordering the lake.  Do not be afraid, it is at the end”.  In that moment the only thing that occurred to us to say was:  “Lord, in your name we will make one last attempt”.  We proceeded to go to the end of the lake and found the house and the poor man who told the priest who accompanied me:  “I was waiting for you”.  The man died two hours later at peace comforted by the Sacrament.  All of this was, in the end, a lesson:  We must humbly trust in the Lord and “put out into deep water and lower your nets” and ask Him to purify us of our disbeliefs.
This Ash Wednesday begins Lent.  It is an opportunity “to deny yourself” and obey God, who tells us through the symbol of the ashes to “Believe and turn to Christ’s Word”.
Pope Francis in his message for Lent this Jubilee year of 2016 says:  “This is a favorable time to finally break free of our existential alienation thanks to the listening of the Word and the works of mercy.  Using the Corporal Works of Mercy we touch the flesh of Christ in our brothers and sisters who need to be fed, clothed, housed, and visited.  Whereas the Spiritual Works of Mercy touch more directly to our condition as sinners:  advise, teach, forgive, and pray.  Never separate the Corporal Works from the Spiritual Works of Mercy………..
I invite you to embark on a path of conversion, but not a superficial pass.  Embark on a spiritual journey that passes through our hearts where our decisions, and our love for God and our neighbor mature as an expression of the free and positive efforts in the obeying and following of Christ through prayer, almsgiving and fasting.