30 Nov – Feast of St Andrew, Apostle
Thank you for journeying with us all this while. The liturgical year is coming to an end, and the OXYGEN team would like to invite interested writers to contribute a reflection or two for the Christmas mass readings at the end of this year. If you feel called to put the sharing of your faith into writing, please do drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you!
The OXYGEN team
The brother of St. Peter, born in Bethsaida, disciple of John the Baptist until, with Peter, he answered the call of Christ. He is mentioned several times in the gospels: he brought the Gentiles to Jesus, and pointed out the boy with the loaves and the fishes. He is thought to have preached in Scythia, and to have been martyred at Patras in Achaia.
– The Weekday Missal
If your lips confess that Jesus is Lord and if you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, then you will be saved. By believing from the heart you are made righteous; by confessing with your lips you are saved. When scripture says: those who believe in him will have no cause for shame, it makes no distinction between Jew and Greek: all belong to the same Lord who is rich enough, however many ask his help, for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
But they will not ask his help unless they believe in him, and they will not believe in him unless they have heard of him, and they will not hear of him unless they get a preacher, and they will never have a preacher unless one is sent, but as scripture says: The footsteps of those who bring good news are a welcome sound. Not everyone, of course, listens to the Good News. As Isaiah says: Lord, how many believed what we proclaimed? So faith comes from what is preached, and what is preached comes from the word of Christ. Let me put the question: is it possible that they did not hear? Indeed they did; in the words of the psalm, their voice has gone out through all the earth, and their message to the ends of the world.
As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, Jesus saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew; they were making a cast in the lake with their net, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.’ And they left their nets at once and followed him. 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. At once, leaving the boat and their father, they followed him.
Let me put the question: is it possible that they did not hear?
It’s been almost 3 years since I stopped believing in the Catholic Church as I knew it, but my relationship with God through the Catholic Church is a strange one. I knew Jesus through the Catholic Church and through Jesus I came to know God. That is something for which I am always grateful. However, as I got more involved in church, I got mixed up with the wrong company – people who marketed themselves as Catholics but were not really Christian. I became one of them too.
In today’s first reading, St. Paul talks about the need to preach to the world that Jesus is Lord and that he rose from the dead to save us from sin. This is the crux of the Christian message, but is this the same Christian message today that is preached by the Catholic Church? Many people hear of the Catholic Church – it’s the one that prays to Mary. It’s the one whose members eat what they believe is the real body of their savior. It’s the one that advocates against abortion, homosexuality, divorce and remarriage, and contraception. As Catholics, we know this is only partially true, but that’s how the non-Catholic world sees the Catholic Church. That’s how it has marketed itself especially in the more developed countries.
In the gospel reading, Jesus calls his first apostles, fishermen, and on hearing his call, they leave their nets behind to follow him. Our nets can signify various things to us. In the modern Catholic Church, our nets could be our obsession with the purity of sex. It could be the obsessions with the various ideologies mentioned above. Since he was elected, Pope Francis has spoken very little about these, and he said somewhere that he has been reprimanded for not speaking about them. It was intentional, he said, because he wants to refocus the Catholic Church’s core message as a Christian Church; he wants Catholics to preach about Jesus, his love, his mission. He wants a missionary Church.
So today, as we reflect on the scripture readings, let us ask ourselves: Jesus is calling us through the pope to follow him, to preach his good news to the world. Are we ready to drop our nets, our obsessions, our favourite topics about being Catholic, and become true Christians, focusing on the core message of Christianity to go preach the gospel to the world?
(Today’s OXYGEN by Daniel Tay)
Prayer: We pray for a renewal in the Catholic Church, that it may go back to its roots as the original Christian Church, and preach the gospel to a world that no longer recognizes its Christianity.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks to the Lord for the Catholic Church which introduced us to God through Jesus Christ.