Thursday, January 22, 2015

Bishop's Note January 22, 2015: "I Will Make You Fishers of Men"

Bishop Eric Menees

This week, we continue to examine the scriptures and witness how the person and character of Jesus is made manifest.  Over the past two weeks, we've been with Jesus at the waters of baptism, when God the Father declared: "You are my beloved son; with you I am well pleased." (Mark 1:11) And we have witnessed the call of Philip and Nathanael, in which Philip modeled the evangelistic zeal that all of us should have when he proclaimed to his friend Nathanael: We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." (John 1:46)  This Sunday's gospel lesson, from Mark, reveals more about Jesus through his call to repentance and his invitation to follow him.

"The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe in the gospel." (Mark 1: 15)  Jesus' declaration of the presence of the Kingdom of God is not metaphorical, but physical - the Kingdom of God is present in the person of Jesus.  What is the appropriate response upon coming into Jesus' presence?  Repentance!  Because we fear his judgment or wrath?  NO!  Rather, because we recognize who he is in relation to who we are!

The gospel lesson continues with the call of the sons of John and the sons of Zebedee, who I refer to as the "Big Four" (Andrew and Simon Peter, James and John).  When we see this described in the fifth chapter of the Gospel of Luke, Jesus meets the fishermen and gets into the boat with them.  Jesus tells them to cast their nets into the sea, even though they had been unsuccessfully toiling all night.  Soon, their nets are filled to overflowing and when they bring the heavy laden net into the boat, Simon Peter recognizes that he is, indeed, in the presence of the Kingdom of God.  Peter falls on his knees, lifting his anguished voice to Jesus: "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord." (Luke 5:8)  This is the proper response when coming into the presence of Jesus - this is what Jesus meant when he said,  "Repent and believe in the gospel."

How amazing and wonderful it is that Jesus follows Simon Peter's declaration with an invitation - the same invitation that he makes to you and to me today, and every day.  "Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men." (Mark 1:17)  Jesus, the Messiah, didn't come to condemn us or to leave us in sin.  He came to redeem us and transform our lives.  And we participate that transformation by following Jesus and spreading his message of salvation to all people!  He makes himself manifest to us, and we make him manifest to others!  That is what the Season of Epiphany is all about.  And to that I say... AMEN!

I pray you all a truly blessed week!

Catechism Questions 64 - 66

64.    What does the Creed mean when it affirms that Jesus rose again from the dead?
It means that Jesus was not simply resuscitated; God restored him physically from death to life in his perfected and glorious body, never to die again. His tomb was empty; Jesus had risen bodily from the dead. The risen Jesus was seen by his apostles and hundreds of other witnesses. (1 Corinthians 15:3-8)
65.    What kind of earthly life did Jesus have after he rose from the dead?
Following his resurrection, Jesus spent forty days visiting and teaching his followers. He appeared to his disciples, spoke to them, invited them to touch him and see his scars, and ate with them. (John 20:19-23; Luke 24:13-49; Acts 1:3)
66.    How should you understand Jesus’ ascension into heaven?

Jesus was taken up out of human sight, and returned in his humanity to the glory he had shared with the Father before his incarnation. There he intercedes for his people and receives into heavenly life all who have faith in him. Though absent in body, Jesus is always with me by his Spirit and hears me when I pray. (John 17:5; Acts 1:1-11)

No comments: