Sunday, 7 February 2010
5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Last week I spoke about something very simple but very important, namely, the need to act with love as the spirit that animates our activity. This week I want to speak about something equally simple and equal important: the INTENTION that motivates our action -because this is another thing that can totally change an activity.
In our gospel today we heard two different ways that Peter went fishing, two different ways that were only different in the fact that they had two different intentions. The first time the intention behind his fishing was just a normal intention most people would have: to do work, to earn money, maybe to support a family. The second time the intention was different: he did it for Jesus, and only for Jesus -as we heard him explain, it seemed hopeless and illogical to him, BUT because Jesus asked it therefore he did it: he did it for Jesus. The first time when he worked for the more mundane intention he worked hard and got nothing: "we worked hard all night long and caught nothing". However, when he did the same thing for Jesus it became easy and it became fruitful.
People sometimes ask me what it means to do something "for Jesus". It means doing it because I know that Jesus wants me to do it, it means doing it to please jesus, it means doing it for love of Jesus. But I want to point out something in this miracle that helps illustrate a further point: Who do you think got to eat and sell the fish that Peter caught in the miraculous catch, the catch that Peter only achieved when he finished because Jesus had told him to fish? It would seem that it was the very same people that would have eaten and sold the fish if they had managed to catch any as they were labouring all through the night, namely, Peter and his companions.
The simple corollary for ourselves is that when we do things "for Jesus" we end up not having less for ourselves but having more, and we likewise don't have less for friends and family because we've offered it to the Lord.
For example, when I seek to love my friend and I seek to do things for my friend I am often, in reality, doing things for myself because of how it will benefit ME to have my friend happy. But if, in contrast, I love my friend "for Jesus’s sake”, then I love my friend more purely and more selflessly -I love my friend in a way that is better for my friend, and is in fact better for me.
If, when you work to earn a salary for your family you offer this work "for Jesus", then your family likewise gets more from this not less.
If you are washing your child's laundry and you offer this work "for Jesus", then likewise your child's clothes are still washed.
And if you doing your own laundry and our own cleaning and your own cooking, and you offer it to the Lord –then it all still gets done –but everything is raised to a higher end: the Lord.
Now, to do this on a habitual basis is difficult because it requires that we continually remember the Lord in order to offer things to the Lord. But, like all habits the more we practice it the easier it becomes.
To do this on a habitual basis also requires faith: it requires believing that God is actually interested in the details of our lives. That this fact is true is something that has been lived out by the saints down the ages. It is also something expressed in practices like that of making a morning offering -I have included in this week's newsletter two examples of morning offering prayers, one for adults and another for children. A morning offering looks ahead to every detail of the day and forms a general intention to offer it all to the Lord, so that even though our concentration will wander through the day we have at least made this our general intention. And we can renew this intention at the end of the day looking back at every detail of the day that has gone and letting go of any attachment to self and giving it to God.
And God is interested in the details of your day because He is interested in you, and your day consists of details not just big things.
And why should we do any of this? We can offer our day and our lives to Jesus because life is easier when we live it for Jesus, just as Peter found his fishing easier and more fruitful when did it the Jesus. But ultimately the real reason we should live for Jesus and offer everything we do to Jesus is because we owe it to Him: Everything we have we have from Him and so it is a simple matter of justice that we should lovingly offer it back to Him.
An Adult's Morning Offering Prayer
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus,
through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
and in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world,
I offer You my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day
for the love of God,
in reparation for sins,
for the conversion of sinners,
for the intentions of all my friends and family,
for all who have asked me to pray for them, in general and in particular,
and for the intentions of our Holy Father the Pope. Amen.
A Child's Morning Offering Prayer
Good morning, dear Jesus,
I offer you this day
All that I do and think and say.
Dear Mary his mother
See what I do
Give it to Jesus
And be my mother too. Amen.