Opening the Word: The least of these

By:

Jesus, the one who has come to fulfill the messianic prophecy of Isaiah, seeks out missionary companions. But instead of choosing those with power, he identifies once-anonymous men from Galilee.

These unknown men don’t even seem to be excellent fishermen. All night long they toiled but caught nothing. And yet, it is Simon Peter, James and John who are chosen by the Lord. He brings Peter out into the deep, gathering a large number of fish.

From the perspective of these once-unknown apostles, their commitment to the Lord seems equally irrational. Based on a single catch, and the promise that they are to become fishers of men, “they left everything and followed him” (Lk 5:11).

Fifth Sunday in Ordianary Time - Feb 10, 2019
IS 6:1-2A, 3-8
PS 138:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 7-8
1 COR 15: 1-11
OR 1 COR 15:3-8, 11
LK 5:1-11


Through this calling of the apostles, we are shown a model for leadership in the Church. Ecclesial leadership was not given to those with the right résumé and experience. It is given to the “least of these,” like St. Paul, who persecuted the Church of God. The most unlikely are those sent to the ends of the world.

The rationale for God’s choice is linked to the Gospel, as St. Paul makes clear. For what is handed on is not the charism of a particular leader. It is not some ideology constructed by a clergyman.

What is handed on is an unexpected story of salvation: “… that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3-4).

God has chosen the least of these, the entire human race, to enter into the gift of divine life. Who is worthy to receive this gift of love? Not one.

The apostles are thus a sacramental sign of the salvation of the entire world. Their vocation is to go forth to the end of the earth preaching Christ crucified.

A certain celebrity cult has arisen once again in the Church that rewards bishops, priests, preachers and teachers not for their commitment to the Good News of salvation, but for their prestige: This bishop is more important because he’s a cardinal and thus closer to the power of the Vatican. That priest on Twitter matters more because he has a huge number of followers and thus functions something like a present-day celebrity. This lay missionary is the really important one because he or she is famous, with thousands coming to hear him or her speak.

Such attitudes are contradictory to the Gospel. God is not interested in the prestige of the men and women chosen to preach the Risen Christ.

God instead is looking for someone faithful to the Good News that Christ is the risen Lord. Fidelity here means recognizing that it is not me, my message, my brand, my tweets or Instagram posts that save the world. It is the crucified and risen God-man alone. It is a love that no human person could imagine, which has changed the very orientation of the world.

Ecclesial leaders, whether they’re the successors of the apostles, a lay missionary teacher or ordinary Catholic, need to underline the centrality of this narrative of salvation in their mission. All of us, no matter our vocation or position in the Church, must preach Christ and Christ alone.

When we do, we’ll recognize the same thing Paul did — a vocation to be the least.

This article comes to you from OSV Newsweekly (Our Sunday Visitor) courtesy of your parish or diocese.

 

Catholic News & Perspective

Provides information on the Church, the nation and the world from OSV, America's most popular and trusted national Catholic news source


Recent

Opening the Word: Transcendent mercy

Friday, March 22, 2019
By: Timothy P. O'Malley God didn’t have to reveal any name to Moses. In fact, one can interpret Moses’ request that God reveal his name... Read More

States take action to secure abortion laws

Wednesday, March 20, 2019
By: Brian Fraga Emboldened by Democratic wins in last November’s elections and seizing on fears that a U.S. Supreme Court with a conservative... Read More

Send in the crowds

Monday, March 18, 2019
By: Teresa Tomeo If I had a penny for every time my spiritual director over the years has told me “all things Christ,” I would be a... Read More

Opening the Word: Luminosity of love

Friday, March 15, 2019
By: Timothy P. O'Malley Spiritual theologians often have cautioned Christians about relying on visions. St. John of the Cross warned his readers... Read More

As U.S. dioceses release lists of credibly accused, the question remains: Is it enough?

Wednesday, March 13, 2019
By: Brian Fraga At least 111 Catholic dioceses and 11 religious institutes in the United States have released lists of clergy, religious and lay... Read More

Why I'm staying

Monday, March 11, 2019
By: Russell Shaw This column is being written on the eve of a much-publicized summit meeting of bishops from around the world whom Pope Francis has... Read More

Opening the Word: Ethics of adoration

Friday, March 8, 2019
By: Timothy P. O'Malley In the public sphere, there is often a separation between the act of worship and public life. We are told religion,... Read More

Why is Cardinal Newman still relevant today?

Wednesday, March 6, 2019
By: Michelle Martin Ryan Marr and his colleagues were thrilled to hear that a second miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Cardinal... Read More

Mark of true beauty

Monday, March 4, 2019
By: Teresa Tomeo Several years ago, when addressing the topic of culture and media influence on people of faith, Pope Benedict XVI gave us a great... Read More

Opening the Word: Horizon of discipleship

Friday, March 1, 2019
By: Timothy P. O'Malley Christians are at risk of falling into a severe trap. Namely, we believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is really a matter... Read More