What You Leave Behind

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As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen.

He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.

Matthew 4:18-20

When Jesus calls the first disciples, they are busy fisherman. Like others at this time in history, a career was something you learned through apprenticeships. It was likely that they had been fishermen their entire lives.

Yet, the moment they meet Jesus, they are willing to drop everything and follow him. They left their nets behind.

In the Angelus we echo the words of Mary and pray,

“Behold, the handmaid of the Lord.
Be it done unto me according to thy word.”

Repeating these words time after time, day after day begins to have an impact on our minds and hearts. We will begin, over time, to seek out opportunities to let God’s will be done in our lives. We will recognize our identity as humble servants of the Lord.

Like the disciples and like Mary, who left behind her plans to be an ordinary wife and mother with Joseph, we will be given the opportunity to leave behind a life we came to expect. We will leave behind what we feel is comfortable.

What we gain is complete dependence on the Lord who uses our gifts, skills, and desires to fulfill his will.

The disciples, who were fisherman, became fishers of men.

Mary, who was to be wife and mother, becomes the Mother of God.

You are to be something important, but God is calling you to be something important for him.

This may be scary, but our declaration of openness to God’s word is followed by the recognition of God’s presence:

“The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.”

God is with us today calling us to follow him.

What is he calling you to leave behind?

Behold!

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What do these two phrases have in common:

“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” (Jn 1:29)

“Behold, the handmaid of the Lord.” (Luke 1:38, Angelus)

They begin with the word “behold,” as in, stop everything and pay attention to something really great! But they also refer to two metaphors that are actually not that great. They are actually very weak.

Usually, when we hear the word “behold” it refers to something great and powerful.

Yet, here John the Baptists points to Jesus calling him a lamb. Could there be anything less powerful? A lamb?

Similarly, when the angel Gabriel came to Mary and the Holy Spirit came upon her, she said “behold” not pointing out her greatness, but her humility. She declares herself to be a humble handmaid–a servant of God.

Both titles (lamb and handmaid) defer greatness to God. As lamb and handmaid, Jesus and Mary show a deep sense of self-sacrificial love for the Father and the deep sense of humility that we are called to imitate in the world.

Lambs were sacrificed for the forgiveness of sin. Handmaids lived in service of others.

What do we have to behold about you? How can you show the humility of Christ and Mary by serving God today?

 

 

 

 

Epiphany

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During the Feast of the Epiphany we commemorate the revelation of God’s Son as a human being. He was made flesh and dwelt among us. We hear the Gospel reading of the magi who come from foreign lands to do homage to the newborn king–not just of the Jews, but of the entire universe.

God comes to save not only his Jewish people, but the Gentiles too and the whole world.

In the Angelus we pray:

And the Word was made flesh.
And dwelt among us.

As we reflect on these words and the meaning of the Epiphany, let us follow the example of the Magi. They came to Jesus and did him homage. They offered him their great respect and brought him gifts to be presented in his honor.

The Word, our God, is here dwelling among us. He is with us.

Let us ask ourselves:

1) How can we do him homage today?

Spend some special time in prayer or fasting.

2) What unique gifts can we bring to him?

The magi brought unique gifts from their lands to the newborn King. We each have unique gifts we can offer and dedicate to the Lord today too. What special talents or skills do we have that can be dedicated to God in service to him?

“Noel” by J.R.R. Tolkein

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Grim was the world and grey last night:
The moon and stars were fled,
The hall was dark without song or light,
The fires were fallen dead.
The wind in the trees was like to the sea,
And over the mountains’ teeth
It whistled bitter-cold and free,
As a sword leapt from its sheath.

The lord of snows upreared his head;
His mantle long and pale
Upon the bitter blast was spread
And hung o’er hill and dale.
The world was blind, the boughs were bent,
All ways and paths were wild:
Then the veil of cloud apart was rent,
And here was born a Child.

The ancient dome of heaven sheer
Was pricked with distant light;
A star came shining white and clear
Alone above the night.
In the dale of dark in that hour of birth
One voice on a sudden sang:
Then all the bells in Heaven and Earth
Together at midnight rang.

Mary sang in this world below:
They heard her song arise
O’er mist and over mountain snow
To the walls of Paradise,
And the tongue of many bells was stirred
in Heaven’s towers to ring
When the voice of mortal maid was heard,
That was mother of Heaven’s King.

Glad is the world and fair this night
With stars about its head,
And the hall is filled with laughter and light,
And fires are burning red.
The bells of Paradise now ring
With bells of Christendom,
And Gloria, Gloria we will sing
That God on earth is come.

 

Originally published by J.R.R. Tolkein in the 1936 Annual of Our Lady’s School, Abingdon.

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