This blog follows the daily bible readings of the Catholic Church
Reading 1, Rom 10:9-18
9 If you declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and if you believe with your heart that God raised him from the dead, then you will be saved. 10 It is by believing with the heart that you are justified, and by making the declaration with your lips that you are saved.
11 When scripture says: No one who relies on this will be brought to disgrace, 12 it makes no distinction between Jew and Greek: the same Lord is the Lord of all, and his generosity is offered to all who appeal to him, 13 for all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved.
14 How then are they to call on him if they have not come to believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard of him? And how will they hear of him unless there is a preacher for them? 15 And how will there be preachers if they are not sent? As scripture says: How beautiful are the feet of the messenger of good news.
16 But in fact they have not all responded to the good news. As Isaiah says: Lord, who has given credence to what they have heard from us? 17 But it is in that way faith comes, from hearing, and that means hearing the word of Christ. 18 Well then, I say, is it possible that they have not heard? Indeed they have: in the entire earth their voice stands out, their message reaches the whole world.
Paul sets out his doctrine of salvation in miniature here:
- Faith is the conviction of the heart in, and the public acknowledgment of, Christ as living Lord;
- There is only one Lord and only one offer of generous rescue to all humanity. There are no divinely favoured races.
- Because these “glad tidings” are not natural truths but witness to a particular experience of the Lord, they have to be announced. They will not arise spontaneously in people’s minds.
- “Announcers” have to be called, commissioned and sent out. This is part of God’s purpose.
- The opportunity to accept or reject God’s generosity means all must hear the word of Christ. The ecumenical announcement of the gospel (ecumeny=the inhabited world) is, according to Paul, already happening.
As always, Paul’s view is challenging to the contemporary church.
Gospel, Matthew 4:18-22
18 As he was walking by the Lake of Galilee he saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew; they were making a cast into the lake with their net, for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, ‘Come after me and I will make you fishers of people.’ 20 And at once they left their nets and followed him. 21 Going on from there he saw another pair of brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John; they were in their boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them.22 And at once, leaving the boat and their father, they followed him.
In this passage we see the vocation of the “announcer” of the Lord’s message: it is presented as immediate, irresistible, and permanent: they are to be “made” into fishers of people. Although all believers “come after”, that is, become disciples of Jesus, not all disciples are to be sent out as Apostles. In this way “fishing” becomes part of the story of God’s generosity: God’s net is love but it needs casting.
As the churches struggle to find their vocation today, both of these passages from the Lectionary are of the greatest relevance.