February 2, 2020 - Pastor Message02/28/2020
THE YEAR OF DISCIPLESHIP COLLABORATION “As Jesus 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. He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him” (Matthew 4:1822).
The above reading, taken from last Sunday’s Gospel, provides a good starting point for our reflection on this month’s theme for our Year of Discipleship: collaboration. From the very beginning of his public ministry, Jesus knew that he could not do what the Father had sent him to do alone. He needed to build a team and form a community of disciples who could learn from him directly and to whom he could reveal his innermost thoughts. Working together, they would form the foundation of the new People of God Jesus came to establish. He would send them out in pairs to prepare his way, practicing the evangelization that would be their task once his own mission was completed and he returned to the Father, thus teaching them that they too were not to be lone wolves but needed partners if they would carry out their mission.
And that is what they did. The now apostles, a word meaning “messengers”, went out to the cities, towns, and villages of the known world, proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ and forming communities of faith that today we call dioceses and parishes. Working together with the people of the community, the apostles set up the social structures needed to ensure that the mission of the Gospel would continue in that area, and then the apostles moved on to the next area and did it all over again.
The writings of the New Testament, especially the Acts of the Apostles and the letters of Paul, speak at length to the collaboration and teamwork central to the apostles’ mission and to the building up of the early Church. Collaboration and teamwork are just as vital to the mission of the Church today. Like Jesus and the apostles, we cannot carry out the part of the mission of the Gospel entrusted to us on our own. We need to work together, building up the community of disciples we call our parish and our diocese. We will look at specific areas of collaboration in future columns. For now, let us pray that we may develop a greater and greater openness to collaboration in our own lives and that it may lead to a greater and greater spirit of collaboration in our parish and our diocese.
Fr. Marc Stockton