Leave the Boat and build up God's Kingdom

Homily for the Third Sunday of Year A

by Fr. Tommy Lane

(The introduction to this homily is omitted here since it was relevant for a particular time and place.)

The call the disciples received in our Gospel today to leave the boat and the fishing is remarkable. Can you imagine what Zebedee said on the day when his two sons went home and said they were packing it all up to join Jesus of Nazareth? I think if we were flies on the wall in the house on that day we would be embarrassed! We are not all called in a similar fashion but I would like to see our Gospel today as a reminder to us to make room for God in our lives, to work for his kingdom. Even though you don’t give up your livelihoods, you are called to be disciples. I have heard some people say that they spent the first half of their lives building up their careers and it was only during the second half of their lives that they made room for God. I will never forget when someone shared with me that they had wasted their life until they attended my Scripture course. Some people receive the grace to realize that there is more to life than career, that God also needs time in our lives. It could even happen in the life of a priest. I heard of one priest saying that he had spent ten years after his ordination building up his own kingdom and then he began to work to build up God’s kingdom. The call in today’s Gospel to leave the boat and the fishing is a reminder to make room for God every day, to build up God’s kingdom instead of building up our own kingdom. When we do then we are the better for it. Then the prophecy in our first reading and Gospel is fulfilled in our lives also:

The people that lived in darkness
Has seen a great light;
On those who dwell in the land and shadow of death
A light has dawned. (Isa 9:1)

When we leave the boat and the fishing every day to make room for God, to build up his kingdom in whatever way we do it, then those who live in darkness see a great light, and light dawns on us. That reminds me of a true story I have previously told you.

In 1982 an article appeared in Reader’s Digest about an advertising executive. In spite of her successful career, she felt an emptiness in her life. One morning, during a breakfast meeting with her marketing consultant, she mentioned that emptiness. “Do you want to fill it?” her colleague asked. “Of Course I do,” she said. He looked at her and replied, “Then start each day with an hour of prayer.” She looked at him and said, “Don, you’ve got to be kidding. If I tried that, I’d go off my rocker.” Her friend smiled and said, “That’s exactly what I said 20 years ago.” Then he said something else that really made her think. He said “You’re trying to fit God into your life. Instead you should be trying to make your life revolve around God.” The woman left the restaurant in turmoil. Begin each morning with prayer? Begin each morning with an hour of prayer? Absolutely out of the question! Yet, the next morning she found herself doing exactly that. And she’s been doing it ever since. The woman is the first to admit that it has not always been easy. There have been mornings when she was filled with great peace and joy. But there have been other mornings when she was filled with nothing but weariness. And it was on these weary mornings that she remembered something else that her marketing consultant said. “There will be times when your mind just won’t go into God’s sanctuary. That’s when you spend your hour in God’s waiting room. Still, you’re there, and God appreciates your struggle to stay there.”

Our Gospel reminds us that every day we are called to build up God’s kingdom, not just our own. When we do, to use the words of our first reading, then those who live in darkness will see a great light, the yoke weighing on them, the bar across their shoulders and the rod of their oppressors will be broken. A light will dawn on us also.

Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013

This homily was delivered when I was engaged in parish ministry in Ireland before joining the faculty of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.

More homilies for the Third Sunday Year A

Only Jesus is the Solution to the World’s Problems

"Come after Me" - The Call of the Disciples 2014

Related Homilies: If Jesus could use the Twelve apostles with their weaknesses he can use us

Answering God’s Call - Vocations in the Bible

Homilies on priesthood

Second Reading related: The Church of Jesus Christ is never my Church but always his Church 2012

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