Pascha III: 2016 Bishop’s Appeal
Cycle B- 2016
Acts 5:27-32, 40-41; Psalm 30; Revelation 5:11-14; John 21:1-14
Did you ever consider that after the creation of the human being our God always and only acts with the cooperation of human beings? God never again acts alone or independently. God always chooses to be in relationship and work out salvation in collaboration with human beings.
- God chose, and one might say, needed the cooperation of Mary for the Incarnation. Without her “yes” God could not become human in Jesus.
- God chose to invite Moses into a relationship and only with his cooperation confront the injustices of Pharaoh of Egypt and lead his people out of slavery.
- God never forced himself on any of the people he chose as prophets even if they gave excuses why they should not be a prophet such as being too young, a lack of personal integrity, disappointment in God or their sinfulness and unworthiness. It was only, despite the excuses, with the cooperation of Jonah, Isaiah, Saul of Tarsus, and Amos that God was able to speak to his people.
- Sarah’s ridiculing laughter at the thought of bearing a child in her old age was confronted by God. She eventually cooperated in the birth of Isaac and so, the continuation of the promise made to have descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky or the sands of the seashore. [See Genesis 15:5; Genesis 22:17; Genesis 26:4]
- Did not Francis of Assisi, Teresa of Kolkata, Ignatius of Loyola, Catherine of Siena, Thomas Merton, Elizabeth Ann Seton in the face of church and family opposition, personal spiritual struggles, and burdensome past lives, not have to cooperate with God for God to accomplish through them the renewal of the Church in various ages?
- God never forces himself on his sons and daughters. God invites and desires us to cooperate with grace so as to turn away from sin and grow in holiness; desires us to cooperate with his will for us so that the Reign of God may be a reality here and now.
Thus the words of Jesus today have a deeper significance and consequence. “When the disciples climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.” [John 21:9-10]
“Bring some of the fish you just caught.” And it is combined with the fish and bread that Jesus has somehow provided. Together the two portions make for breakfast. Neither alone is breakfast.
So I come before you today with the words of Jesus, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.” and invite you to participate in the annual Bishop’s Appeal of our Diocese. Cooperation is at the heart of how God has chosen to bring about his Reign on earth. And I invite you to become a part of that act of collaboration for the good of the whole Church and all people who come to our doors for help.
In the past I have asked for your donations – the fish you daily catch by your hard work supporting your families – to care for people in need around the world and in other parts of our country. And you have always been very generous, especially when it has been an unanticipated collection due to a natural disaster. Yet, it is just as important to care for the people right here in our own communities that comprise the 14 county area of New York State that we Catholics form as the Church in Albany.
Your participation, your donations, your “fish”, is gathered together with the donations of tens of thousands of Catholics and the work of hundreds of dedicated people throughout our diocese: religious educators, Catholic school teachers, health care providers, hospital chaplains, campus minsters, and diocesan offices and staffs that diligently labour in various ways to proclaim and lie out the Reign of God. And as you are well aware due to the support of our Food Pantry, of singular importance is the work of Catholic Charities. Catholic Charities provides service to individuals or families experiencing a crisis, an unmet need, or just lacking a working knowledge on how to access a health or human service available to them. Assisting people at the times of greatest human need, Catholic Charities is most directly served by the appeal.
I invite you this week to pray in regard to this annual appeal. And though knowing that many people and families are having difficulty making financial ends meet to continue the support you have given in the past or maybe for the first time to join us in the appeal. Next Sunday is Commitment Sunday, when I will ask you to make a pledge or an outright gift to support the work of Christ through the agencies and people of the Albany Diocese. If we all bring some of the fish we have caught together and join it with the Holy Spirit’s resources Jesus provides us and our church we can all have breakfast.