By Sem. Keith Buenaventura
After leaving behind my plans in high school, my opportunities in college, and the joyful life in youth ministry, I decided to go back to my first dream. I entered the seminary not so much because I desire to be here, but because at many points in my life I have been grasped by the conviction that God wants me here. This is the fruit of my discernment and even today I am convinced that I made the right decision.
Now in the seminary, I am called to give my very best in the formation just like when I was a student before. As what we learned in Latin class, Deo Optimo Maximo, give to God your best. Little did I know that I was opening myself to a bigger world of opportunities for growth. The foundations prepared by my parents and teachers became fertile grounds in growing new seeds. I took up Applied Mathematics without understanding fully what it was about and eventually came to love the discipline. It was in college, too, when I had chances to develop my interests and skills. I wrote and took photos for the university paper. On my vacant periods, I was a student assistant in one of the offices at school. I was also exposed to theater and arts, language and culture, the streets and people who led rich faith lives. And what are all these for? I was young and I was asking God.
Pope Benedict XVI, in his encyclical Deus Caritas Est, tells us that “being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.” Being a disciple of Jesus is a result of a personal invitation. Unlike other rabbis, Jesus chooses his disciples. Pope Francis, in Evangelii Gaudium, tells that “the Lord does not disappoint those who take the risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms.”
Jesus is unique. He is and remains a mystery. He himself does not illuminate this mystery. He is not interested in himself at all. He is interested in only one thing, but interested in it totally: God’s coming rule in love. To follow the Lord, we have to give everything. To follow the Lord, we have to give the best in us.
THE GOSPEL TODAY
After John had been arrested,
Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the Gospel of God:
“This is the time of fulfillment.
The Kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”
As he passed by the Sea of Galilee,
he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea;
they were fishermen.
Jesus said to them,
“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Then they left their nets and followed him.
He walked along a little farther
and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They too were in a boat mending their nets.
Then he called them.
So they left their father Zebedee in the boat
along with the hired men and followed him.