Bishop’s Letter: They Left Everything

When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him.

Luke 5:11

My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

Powerful witnesses to the Word of God are made known throughout salvation history as His people respond their fiat to His call. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Hannah, the prophets, responded as faithfully as possible to God’s requests to make His Word known to all His people.  Most recently we recall our Blessed Mother and Joseph, in their unique ways, respond fervently, “yes”, to God’s request of them to bring forth Emmanuel, the Word made flesh among us.

In the Scripture from Luke, we acknowledge again that the call to follow Jesus is unique to each person. Like Mary and Joseph or the shepherds at the birth of Jesus, the disciples respond with immediacy. . . leaving their nets, their father, and blindly accepting the unknown gift Jesus was offering. They followed with trust and full confidence, without hesitation, second-guessing, or assessing the future. Their self-offering was their very being. They gave up their earthly everything to receive heaven – to receive God.

Jesus’ invitation to each one of us is to participate in the wedding feast. Jesus invites us to be His body for He is the Bridegroom. The Church – we – are His Bride. It is in this heavenly marriage between Jesus and the Church that we participate through the Eucharistic Liturgy here on earth as a foretaste of the communion we hope to have with our Divine Bridegroom for all eternity.

Like Peter in St. Luke’s Gospel or Paul who speaks to the Corinthians, we profess our unworthiness and our trust in the Lord that He will heal us as we pray the prayer of the Roman centurion, “Lord I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” We trust that Jesus will heal us as He becomes the most intimate guest of our soul in the Eucharist.

Pope Francis said, “Our relationship with God shapes us, accompanies us and sends us forth as individuals and, ultimately, helps us to ‘set out from our land’, albeit in many cases with a certain trepidation and even fear in the face of the unknown. Yet our Christian faith makes us realize that we are not alone, for God dwells in us, with us and among us: in our families, our neighborhoods, our workplaces and schools, in the cities where we live.” It is important, Pope Francis notes, that we “keep our eyes on Jesus.”

In the Nuptial Blessing from the Order of Celebrating Matrimony, we pray that “as husband and wife, united in body and heart, they might fulfill their calling in the world: O God, who, to reveal the great design you formed in your love, willed that the love of spouses for each other should foreshadow the covenant you graciously made with your people, so that, by fulfillment of the sacramental sign, the mystical marriage of Christ with His Church might become manifest in the union of husband and wife among your faithful.”

Our fiat to love God is a fiat to love one another as Jesus loves us. We bind this Sacramental Covenant in our Baptism and nurture the Covenant as we receive spiritual nourishment through the Eucharist. As Christ dwells within us, individually and as a community of faith, we build a house of the Father, where there is a place for everyone. Pope Francis said, “…our human love is weak, we need the strength of Jesus’ faithful love.”

May our fiat resound to carry out the mission Jesus entrusted to us, persevering in prayer and in the breaking of the bread. May we leave everything to participate in the Wedding Feast.