|By Fr. Brendan McGuire
Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose and Vicar General for special projects, Diocese of San Jose. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Advertisement for God
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – February 7, 2016
“From now on, you will be catching men.” Fishing is not a popular career here in Silicon Valley. While there might not be many in that career of fishing per se, there are many with the career of catching men and women. I am referring to the advertisement industry. It is one of the largest industries in the United States; over one hundred billion dollars alone in TV advertisements last year. World wide, there is over five hundred billion dollars spent in the advertising market.
The goal of advertisement is to get us hooked on a product that they are selling no matter what it is they are selling. For example, a few years ago the Budweiser advertisement on Super Bowl Sunday: it was the advertisement about a horse coming back to meet its owner. It was a brilliant ad because the story about a horse as a powerful hook. But the real idea they were selling is, “Buy our beer.” The hook was the horse but the sell is the beer. The whole purpose is to hook you and then to get you to buy their product.[i]
In scriptures, in one sense, we are called to “buy the product” of Christ Jesus. However, we do not think of ourselves as being called to be fishers of men and women. Yet it is not just priests and/or religious who are called to fish. All of us are called to be fishers of people. We are called to be an advertisement for God. We are called by the demonstration of our lives to sell the message of Jesus Christ to others.
Do we think what we say and do in your lives each day is a worthy advertisement for Jesus Christ? If people saw nothing else but the advertisement of our lives, would they be convinced to believe in Jesus Christ and his resurrection. That is what we are called to do. Every single one of us is called to be an evangelist; we are to proclaim the word of God in what we say and do.
We might answer like Isaiah and say, “I am not worthy; I am too young; my words are not eloquent enough.” But God says to us, “No. My words I will put on your lips.” And God cleanses his lips and Isaiah goes forth to become one of the greatest prophets. He will do the same for us.
Paul and Peter say that they are not worthy. Peter is overwhelmed by the call to go and to be with Christ. He says, “Lord, depart from me for I am a sinful man.”
The starting place for true discipleship is humility; the starting place for being an advertisement for God is being humble enough to allow God to work through us. To be humble enough to know that it just cannot be just me but it has to be the grace of God working through me. We have to be humble enough to allow God to first hook us. We have to allow ourselves to fall in love with Jesus Christ.
[i] Inspired by Karen Johnson, “Celebration: An Ecumenical Worship Resource,” (Kansas City, Missouri: National Catholic Reporter Company, Inc., February 10, 2013).