Fishers of People

Fishers of People

By Emily VanBerkum

Paul’s letter to the Corinthians expresses his desire that all Christians accept the basic tenets of the Christian faith- that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, appeared to Cephas, then the twelve apostles, was buried, and rose from the dead. Paul further emphasizes the importance of belief in Christ’s resurrection by positioning himself as a witness to the resurrection, and an Apostle of Christ. In Magdala, a conciliary formed in St. Basil’s dedicated to understanding the feminine genius and the feminine dimension of the Church, members have explored the richness of Mary Magdalene’s rightful status as ‘Apostle to the Apostles.’ Though not mentioned by Paul in today’s second reading, the Gospels position Mary Magdalene as the first to witness the resurrection of Christ and the one given a distinct Apostolic charge to go share the news of Christ’s rising from the dead. In many ways, Mary Magdalene bore a transformative love for Jesus- followed him in his earthly ministry, through his gruesome death by crucifixion; she anointed him for burial, wept by his tomb, and waited in desperation and unwavering faith for her Saviour to come again in glory. Mary Magdalene was a model disciple. Learning from the significance of Mary Magdalene’s witness to Christ and fervent discipleship, today’s Gospel encourages us to reflect on our own status as a disciple of Christ. In the moments following a miraculous haul of fish, Jesus tells Simon, James, John, and the many that had gathered by the shore: “Do not be afraid; from now on, you will be catching people.” They left everything and followed Him. Fishers of people. Jesus longs for real discipleship so that followers will draw others to him by the way they model their faith. Belief in Jesus is conveyed in countless ways and, as Paul, Mary Magdalene, and the twelve apostles all understood and lived, discipleship is predicated upon a personal encounter and relationship with Jesus. Jesus’ language here does not discriminate about who can follow him, rather stating that those who witness his resurrection and saving action – as it has been passed down from generation to generation ­– will be catchers of people, in turn welcoming all women and men into the Kingdom of God.

Sunday’s Readings:

  • Isaiah 6.1-2a, 3-8
  • Psalm 138
  • 1 Corinthians 15.1-11
  • Luke 5.1-11

The Magdala conciliary gathers once a month through the academic term, discussing topics of relevance to the understanding of the feminine genius and the feminine dimension of the Church. If you are interested in finding out more, please speak with Michael Pirri at (416) 926-1300 x.3210 or michael.pirri@utoronto.ca

Love and Charity

Love and Charity

By John Paul Farahat

I must confess that the second reading for this week gave me pause – many of us will recognize it as a reading often proclaimed at weddings. And I think that it is safe to say that approximately 75% of the 35-40 weddings that take place at Saint Basil’s every year incorporate this excerpt from Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians. So often, we miscategorise this reading as being about romantic love. We assume that Paul is talking about the love between spouses or partners. As meaningful as we may find this interpretation, it is important to point out that the reading is instead referencing charity: that is, God’s love for us, our love for God, and our love of neighbour. Paul is reminding his reader that charity is at the core of Christian living and urging a fundamental shift in their way of living out their faith. How often do we forget to connect our faith to our sense of charity? So often, our faith life, our sense of charity, and our self are not aligned: our ego, our prejudice, our sense of self, all get in the way of being charitable to “the other”. How often do we limit our charity to “the familiar”? How often do we forget that our charity is especially called on when we encounter “the other”? He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Mt 22:37-40)

Sunday’s Readings:

  • Jeremiah 1.4-5, 17-19
  • Psalm 71
  • 1 Corinthians 12.31-13.13
  • Luke 4.21-30

Keeping the Word Central

Keeping the Word Central

The first reading takes place at the end of the Babylonian captivity of the Israelites: the heads of several families had accompanied Ezra, a priest and scribe, back to Jerusalem some short time ago. The seventh month of the Hebrew ecclesiastical year is also the first month of their civil year. Much like January for us, I suspect this was a time of much planning for the year ahead, even more so considering their home was in ruins. The ceremony in the first reading represents a culmination of Ezra’s attempts to restore hope to all those who have returned to Israel, by using the only constant that they have known – God’s Law as shared with them by Moses. Christ exists as the culmination of Isaiah’s prophecy in the second reading – the realization of the Word in the flesh. Much like the Jewish people returning to their homes, we are called to listen to the Word when things are difficult, when we have a long road ahead. The Word being made flesh is the fruit of God’s love and joy for us. But how can we spread this joy swelling from within? If you’ve been following the new releases on Netflix, you’ve likely heard of Marie Kondo, a Japanese ‘declutterer consultant’ who has sparked a decluttering craze. Part of her cleaning method, the Konmari Method, involves taking each item, and considering whether it brings you joy or sparks within you a great feeling. If the item doesn’t ‘spark joy’, you thank the item and then discard of it (hopefully by donating!). Scripture, too, is meant to spark within us something profound; God’s joy and love comes to us through the Word made flesh, through Christ. Much like decluttering, bringing this joy into the world is a step by step process. Day by day, attention to the Word will bring us closer to the joy revealed in the Gospel today.

Sunday’s Readings:

  • Nehemiah 8.2-4a, 5-6, 8-10
  • Psalm 19
  • 1 Corinthians 12.12-30
  • Luke 1.1-4; 4.14-21