As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother, Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen.
A few days ago I celebrated Mass for some Middle School kids. I felt so sorry for them. They looked so sad, so very sad. Poor children. Poor babies. If they only knew. If they only knew that they were living the easiest years of their life; and that over time, the drama of life only gets tougher and much more difficult to understand. Unfortunately, most of them have been inoculated by a shot or a pill to this bitter fact of life.
Ah, who will break it to them? For goodness sake, who will tell them the truth??? Who will challenge them for God’s sake? Who will burst their little bubble; the one just big enough to cover their sacred head? Better yet, to suffocate their sacredness?
I can’t take it anymore! I can’t stand watching these self-absorbed children suffer as they do. No wonder the Lord told the little children, “Come to me, all you who labor and I will give you rest!” Oh, how they suffer! They wake up in the morning without a care in the world. They go to school and know not why or what to do. They have so much to cover and so little time. When they do muster enough courage to ask a question, they typically ask what should never be asked. For example, “Will this be on the test tomorrow?”
How can anyone fail in life? This is one of the greatest tragedies I have witnessed as a priest. I have seen far too many kids get straight A’s in school only to later fail in life. Nothing in the universe can do that. Only man can do that. Only man can fail at being a man. No one else has that option. Animals do not fail at being who they are, but man can fail at being who he is by being something he was never meant to be. Only man can fail at being a Saint.
I think I know why. I think I know how it all began. It began the day they began going through the motions.
People go through the motions for various reasons: to be cautious, to fit in, to be comfortable. But the real reason why we go through the motions is so that we can avoid asking the tough questions. For example: “What am I doing here?” or “What am I supposed to do with my life?”
We are all philosophers. We are! We were born not only to run free but to run questions freely through our mind. It’s in our blood! It’s in our soul. We were made to ask questions. We all philosophize. Even infants philosophize when they ask, “What dat?” One of my favorite, as a teenager, was “Why?” It remains a favorite among teens even to this day! And the only reason why we go through a midlife crisis is because we ask the question: “What have I done with my life?”
As challenging as questions may be, they are not the source of our problems. They are the first steps to solving our problems. Questions are never bad. It’s the answers that some people give that cause the problems! And it is the answers we give to our children’s questions that are causing all their problems. They are horribly efficient. For example: “Because I told you so” is a very efficient answer, but it is not the best answer. “That’s the way it is” is another one. “This will help make your life more comfortable.” But is a comfortable life what anyone really seeks in their life? Is the purpose of school to make our life more comfortable...or more meaningful?
How pathetic! How pathetic it is to just be efficient. It is as pathetic as living life by going through the motions. It’s like having e-mail so that you can write more e-mails or wearing clothes so that you can buy more clothes. Being efficient is as romantic as writing an e-mail; it’s as tasty as plain yogurt; it’s as beautiful as cubicles; it’s as inspiring as an assembly line.
No wonder why our kids are failing in life. It’s clear to all that they are not lacking in things, but in meaningful things; that is, questions, and honest answers to their questions. But what is lacking most, what strips the smile off a child's face is the lack of purpose to their life. So their life becomes more of a chore rather than an adventure. It is no longer full of surprises; it has been scheduled to the minutest detail. It is no longer to be discovered. It is to be researched.
Come to me all you who labor and are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.
Come after me. Today is the feast day of St. Andrew. He was going through the motions, just like his ancestors had taught him to do. He was mending his fishing net when, surprisingly, the Lord invited him to chase after him and be a fisher of men. He got up and left behind everything and everyone. All that he knew and all that he expected to follow the Lord. He must have been asking himself some pretty tough questions for a while. Maybe he was just waiting for the right answers.
Christ is the answer to going through the motions. The Lord is personally inviting us to chase after him; to come after him.
Who am I? Another Christ. What am I here for? To live and die for someone meaningful. Well, there’s nothing more meaningful to life than to live and die for the One who is, who was, and who is to come.