February 9-10, 2019
All God’s People are called to Proclaim the Good News
From Fr. Anthony Ligato
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Over my years as a Priest I have learned that no Priest ministers on his own, rather it is through the collaboration with others that the mission of Jesus Christ is accomplished. The most important attribute of a Pastor is having the ability to recognize the giftedness of ministry in others even when they do not recognize it in themselves. As I said no Pastor does it all on his own. That was an important lesson I learned the first time I Pastored two parishes at the same time. You did not know that I had done this before? Yes, I Pastored two Parishes from 2004 to 2009. I was Pastor of Holy Family Parish in Little Falls and St. Anthony and Joseph’ Church in Herkimer. Those two parishes were very different from each other and eight miles apart. They had a combined registration of 2000 families across southern Herkimer County. I did not have an associate Pastor to help me Pastorally care for this large number of people, but I did have a retired Priest, Fr. Tom Vale who celebrated one of my five Sunday Masses.
I came to understand quickly that if I was going to be able to successfully minster to this large number of people spread over such a large territory I was going to have to rely on the help of parishioners and my parish staffs. I began to reach out to parishioners asking them to take on such ministries as Pastoral Care, Liturgy planning, Bereavement Ministry, Baptismal Preparation, Marriage Preparation, Christian Service and so much more. Many times, when I would approach people to ask for their help in these areas of ministry, they would respond much like St. Peter; “Depart from me Lord, for I am a sinful man.” Well maybe they did not say exactly that, but it was the same sentiment, they always felt unworthy or unsuitable to the task of ministry. It took some convincing, but ultimately, they would give in and say yes. Thank God they did, because I could never have done it all alone.
St. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12:2731, “Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it. Some people God has designated in the church to be, first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers; then, mighty deeds; then, gifts of healing, assistance, administration, and varieties of tongues.Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work mighty deeds? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts.” I am always reminded that the entire Body of Christ are called to minister, we may not all be called to the same ministry, but we are all called to minister.
We hear today in all the scripture readings a call and a response. The question we must ask ourselves first before we can respond to the call, what is our calling? Once we understand our calling then we can respond to God’s call. Maybe we are called to be a prophet as Isaiah. In today’s first reading (Isaiah 6:12a,38) as well as all the prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures is a response on the part of God to the cry of the people of Israel to be delivered from their pain and suffering. Isaiah is overwhelmed and humbled by his call and responds to God with a claim of unworthiness, “Woe is me, I am doomed! For I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts!” Isaiah’s ultimate response was to say, yes to his call, because he understood the need of the people God was sending him to serve. Isaiah saw himself as unworthy but recognized that none the less he was called to serve.
Peter came to that same understanding reluctantly. Jesus calls upon him to let him use his boat, “Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon (Peter), he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.” Peter responded to the call to serve Jesus in this capacity but would question Jesus’ next request, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Peter went on to say, Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.” Once Peter saw the catch, he was humbled and began to understand the purpose for which he was called, because of this he was able to respond out of humility, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” Jesus said, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” Jesus calls us to respond to the needs of people, in our church. We are all called to proclaim the Good News, we may not all have the same job in proclaiming that Good News, but we all have a call to this ministry by virtue of our Baptism. What ministry is the Lord calling you to serve in? Are you ready to say yes to that call?
Yours in Christ,