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We are Fishers of Men

We are Fishers of Men

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time [B]

January 24, 2021

Mark 1:14-20

We once again listen to the story of the calling of the first disciples: Simon and Andrew, as well as James and John, the sons of Zebedee. Jesus called them, and He would make them ‘the fishers of men.’ Yet, from countless possibilities of professions and occupations, why did they have to be ‘the fishers of men’? Why not merely Jesus’ promotion team? Why not Jesus’ soldiers?

The answer is not far from who the first disciples were. They were fishermen of Galilee. Yet, this time, they were no longer catching fish but gathering people for Christ. While they left almost everything behind and followed Jesus, they brought their lives, characters, experiences, and skills with them. They remained fishermen, but this time Jesus transformed the object of their catch: men and women.

The second reason why they were called ‘fishers of men’ is even more profound. It speaks of the fulfillment of the Old Testament’s prophesy. The great prophet Jeremiah who lived around 500 years before Christ, once said, “For I will bring them back to their land that I gave to their ancestors. I am now sending for many fishermen, says the Lord, and they shall catch them… [Jer 16:15-16].” The historical context of this prophecy is critical. After Salomon’s reign, the kingdom of Israel was divided into two smaller kingdoms. The northern kingdom was the coalition of 10 tribes, and the southern kingdom was the tribe, Judah and Benjamin. In 721 SM, the northern kingdom was destroyed by the Assyrian empire, and the ten tribes were deported to foreign lands. Then in 587 SM, the southern kingdom was demolished by the Babylonian empire, and the inhabitants were brought to the Babylonian lands. Jeremiah prophesied that God would bring back the scattered Israelites by sending ‘fishermen.’

By calling His first disciples as ‘fishers of men,’ Jesus was fulfilling Jeremiah’s prophecy. Jesus was gathering back the lost tribes of Israelites to Himself as the new Israel. This is why Jesus called and chose twelve apostles. The twelve apostles shall serve as the leaders of the new twelve tribes of Israel.

The identity and mission as ‘fishers of men’ are primarily for the apostles, yet every baptized Christians are sharing in this identity. We are fishers of men and women for Christ. Some of us may be called to get a quantity gain, like a priest who baptized thousands of people. Some of us may be invited to have a quantity yield, like parents who raise and educate their children as mature and responsible Catholics. Some of us stand in between these two kinds of catches, like zealous catechists, courageous lay missionaries, faithful religious sisters who take care of schools or orphanages, or indefatigable community leaders.

Surely to be a fisherman is not a stress-free job. Sometimes, we are facing storms and dangers. Sometimes, we are getting nothing after our best effort. Occasionally, we get in a disagreement with our fellow fishermen. However, the Gospel reminds us that we are not fishermen because we are good, but because Jesus calls us and makes us His fishermen. We draw our purpose and strength from Jesus because we are participating in Jesus’ mission to gather people to Himself. We are working together with apostles to fulfill God’s promise of the New Israel. We are the fishers of men.

 Valentinus Bayuhadi Ruseno, OP

Kita adalah Penjala Manusia

Kita adalah Penjala Manusia

Minggu ke-3 di Masa Biasa [B]

24 Januari 2021

Markus 1: 14-20

Kita mendengarkan kisah panggilan murid-murid pertama: Simon dan Andreas, juga Yakobus dan Yohanes, anak-anak Zebedeus. Yesus memanggil mereka dan Dia akan menjadikan mereka ‘penjala manusia’. Namun, dari berbagai profesi dan pekerjaan yang tak terhitung jumlahnya, mengapa mereka harus menjadi ‘penjala manusia’? Mengapa tidak jadi tim promosi Yesus? Mengapa bukan tentara Yesus?

Jawabannya tidak jauh dari siapa murid pertama itu. Mereka adalah para nelayan di Galilea. Namun, kali ini, mereka tidak lagi menangkap ikan, tetapi mengumpulkan orang bagi Kristus. Meskipun mereka meninggalkan hampir semuanya dan mengikuti Yesus, pada dasarnya mereka membawa serta kehidupan, karakter, pengalaman, dan keterampilan mereka. Mereka tetap menjadi nelayan, tetapi kali ini Yesus mengubah objek yang mereka tangkap: manusia.

Alasan kedua mengapa mereka disebut ‘penjala manusia’ bahkan lebih bermakna. Hal ini berbicara tentang pemenuhan sebuah nubuat di Perjanjian Lama. Nabi besar Yeremia yang hidup sekitar 500 tahun sebelum Kristus, pernah berkata, “Sebab Aku akan membawa mereka pulangke tanahyang telah Kuberikan kepada nenek moyangmereka. Sesungguhnya, Aku mau menyuruh banyak penangkap ikan, demikianlah firman TUHAN, yang akan menangkap mereka… [Yer 16: 15-16].” Untuk mengerti maksud nubuat ini, kita perlu melihat konteks historisnya. Setelah pemerintahan raja Salomon, kerajaan Israel terbagi menjadi dua kerajaan yang lebih kecil. Kerajaan utara yang merupakan gabungan 10 suku, dan kerajaan selatan yaitu suku Yehuda dan Benyamin. Pada 721 SM, kerajaan utara dihancurkan oleh kekaisaran Asyur, dan sepuluh suku itu dideportasi ke negeri asing. Kemudian pada tahun 587 SM, kerajaan bagian selatan dihancurkan oleh kerajaan Babel, dan penduduknya dibawa ke tanah Babel. Yeremia bernubuat bahwa Tuhan akan mengembalikan bangsa Israel yang tercerai-berai dengan mengirim ‘penangkap ikan’.

Dengan menyebut murid-murid-Nya yang pertama sebagai ‘penjala manusia’, Yesus sedang memenuhi nubuat Yeremia. Yesus sedang mengumpulkan kembali suku-suku Israel yang hilang di dalam diri-Nya sebagai Israel baru. Inilah mengapa Yesus memanggil dan memilih dua belas rasul. Kedua belas rasul akan menjadi pemimpin dari dua belas suku baru Israel.

Identitas dan misi sebagai ‘penjala manusia’ ini tidak hanya bagi para rasul, namun setiap orang yang telah dibaptis berbagi dalam identitas ini. Kita adalah penjala manusia bagi Kristus. Beberapa dari kita mungkin dipanggil untuk mendapatkan tangkapan yang berlimpah, seperti seorang imam yang membaptis ribuan orang. Beberapa dari kita mungkin dipanggil untuk memiliki hasil yang berkualitas, seperti orang tua yang membesarkan dan mendidik anak-anak mereka sebagai orang Katolik yang dewasa dan bertanggung jawab. Beberapa dari kita berdiri di antara dua jenis tangkapan ini, seperti katekis yang berdedikasi, misionaris awam yang berani, suster yang setia mengurus sekolah atau panti asuhan, atau pemimpin komunitas yang tak kenal lelah.

Pastinya menjadi nelayan bukanlah pekerjaan yang bebas stres. Terkadang, kita menghadapi badai dan bahaya. Terkadang, kita tidak mendapatkan apa-apa setelah usaha terbaik kita. Terkadang, kita berselisih paham dengan sesama pekerja. Namun, Injil mengingatkan kita bahwa kita bukan penjala manusia karena kita layak dan sempurna, tetapi karena Yesus memanggil kita dan menjadikan kita penjala manusia-Nya. Kita mengambil tujuan dan kekuatan kita dari Yesus karena kita berpartisipasi dalam misi Yesus untuk menyatukan seluruh umat manusia di dalam-Nya. Kita bekerja dengan para rasul untuk memenuhi janji Tuhan tentang Israel Baru. Kita adalah penjala manusia.

 Valentinus Bayuhadi Ruseno, OP

Yesus, Anak Domba Allah kita

Yesus, Anak Domba Allah kita

Minggu Kedua Masa Biasa [B]

17 Januari 2021

Yohanes 1: 35-42

Yohanes Pembaptis menyebut Yesus sebagai ‘Anak Domba Allah.’ Jika kita menghadiri perayaan Ekaristi, kita akan selalu mendengar ungkapan ini. Tepat sebelum komuni, imam akan memegang roti dan anggur yang telah dikonsekrir, dan memperlihatkan kepada kita semua, lalu berkata, “Lihatlah Anak Domba Allah, Lihatlah Dia yang menghapus dosa dunia. Berbahagialah kita yang diundang ke perjamuan-Nya! ”

Saya seorang Katolik sejak kecil dan saya tidak dapat mengingat lagi kapan saya mendengar Anak Domba Allah ini untuk pertama kalinya. Namun, saya tidak pernah bertanya mengapa Yesus dipanggil seperti itu. Mungkin, itu hanyalah salah satu gelar Yesus. Namun, Saya secara bertahap mempelajari kebenaran yang indah ini saat saya masuk seminari dan mendalami pembelajaran teologi dan Kitab Suci.

Jika kita menempatkan diri kita pada posisi para murid yang hidup di Palestina abad pertama, kita akan melihat betapa dalamnya gelar ini. Ketika para murid mendengar ‘Anak Domba Allah yang menghapus dosa dunia,’ mereka dengan mudah mengerti apa yang dimaksud oleh Yohanes Pembaptis.

  Pertama, domba adalah hewan korban utama di Bait Allah Yerusalem. Setiap hari anak domba disembelih dan dipersembahkan kepada Tuhan. Khususnya pada hari raya Paskah, ribuan ekor domba dibawa ke Bait Allah dan dikorbankan. Meskipun pengorbanan anak domba bukan satu-satunya cara untuk menyembah Tuhan yang benar, ini berfungsi sebagai cara beribadah yang utama. Dengan menyebut Yesus sebagai Anak Domba Allah, kita mengakui bahwa penyembahan yang benar dan utama kepada Allah terjadi di dalam Yesus.

Kedua, salah satu hari raya Yahudi terpenting adalah hari raya Paskah. Ini merayakan kebebasan dari perbudakan bani Israel dari Mesir. Salah satu ciri utama dari perayaan ini adalah anak domba yang dikorbankan. Kitab Keluaran memberikan rincian bagaimana Paskah pertama harus diperingati. Anak domba berumur satu tahun yang tidak bercacat harus disembelih. Darahnya ditempatkan di tiang pintu rumah orang Israel dan tubuhnya yang dipanggang akan dimakan [lihat Keluaran 12]. Untuk menerima Yesus sebagai Anak Domba Allah, kita menyadari bahwa kita diselamatkan oleh pengorbanan dan darah Yesus, dan kita juga perlu makan tubuh-Nya.

Ketiga, satu nubuat yang menghubungkan seorang manusia dengan seekor domba berasal dari Yesaya. Nabi besar ini berbicara tentang sosok misterius ‘hamba Tuhan yang menderita.’ Hamba Allah ini akan menebus Israel, tetapi Dia harus menanggung penderitaan dan kematian yang hebat, meskipun tidak bersalah. Sang Nabi menulis, “Dia dianiaya, tetapi dia membiarkan diri ditindas dan tidak membuka mulutnya seperti anak dombayang dibawa ke pembantaian… [Yes 53: 7]. ” Dengan menerima Yesus sebagai Anak Domba Allah, kita menerima Yesus sebagai Penebus kita yang menderita dan wafat bagi kita.

Sekarang, kita telah mengenali Yesus sebagai Anak Domba Allah, kita perlu melakukan apa yang dilakukan para murid pertama: mereka ‘tinggal’ bersama Dia. Para murid tidak hanya mengenal dan menerima Yesus, tetapi mereka mengikuti dan tinggal bersama-Nya. Tidaklah cukup bagi kita untuk melihat Yesus sebagai Anak Domba, tetapi kita diundang untuk tinggal bersama-Nya, untuk menjadi murid-Nya yang sejati.

Valentinus Bayuhadi Ruseno, OP

Jesus, Our Lamb of God

Jesus, Our Lamb of God

2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time [B]

January 17, 2021

John 1:35-42

John the Baptist identified Jesus as the ‘Lamb of God.’ If we are attending the celebration of the Eucharist, we cannot miss hearing this phrase. Just before the communion, the priest will hold the consecrated bread and wine, and present them to the faithful, then saying, “Behold the Lamb of God, Behold Him who takes away the sin of the world. Happy are those invited to the supper of the Lamb!”

I am a cradle Catholic, and I could no longer remember when I heard this Lamb of God for the first time. Yet, I never bother asking why Jesus is called such because it does not make much sense. Perhaps, it is just another fancy title of Jesus. I gradually learn this beautiful truth as I go deeper into my theology study and scriptures.

If we put ourselves in the shoes of the disciples who were living in the first century Palestine, we will see a lot more going on. When the disciples heard ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” they quickly understood. It was undoubtedly mind-blowing, but they were expecting to hear that.

  Firstly, a lamb was a primarily sacrificial animal in the Jerusalem temple. Every day lambs were slaughtered and offered to God. Especially during the feast day of Passover, thousands of lambs were brought to the Temple and sacrificed. It was a massive display of devotion to behold. Though the lamb’s sacrifice is not the only way to worship the true God, it serves as the ordinary way of worship. By calling Jesus the Lamb of God, we acknowledge that God’s true worship takes place in Jesus.

Secondly, one of the most important Jewish feasts is Passover. It celebrates the freedom from the slavery of God. One of the central features of this celebration is the sacrificed lamb. The Book Exodus gives the details of how the Passover has to be commemorated. An unblemished one-year-old lamb has to be slaughtered. Its blood was placed on the Jewish household doorpost, and its roasted body shall be eaten [see Exo 12]. To accept Jesus as the Lamb of God, we recognize that the sacrifice and blood of Jesus save us, and we need to eat also His body.

Thirdly, one prophesy that connects a person, and a lamb is from Isaiah. The great prophet spoke about the mysterious figure of ‘suffering servant of God.’ This man shall redeem Israel, but He has to endure great suffering and death, despite being innocent.  The prophet wrote, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter… [Isa 53:7].” By receiving Jesus as the Lamb of God, we accept Jesus as our Redeemer who has to suffer and die for us.

Now, we have recognized Jesus as the Lamb of God; we need to do like the first disciples did: they remained with Him. The disciples did not merely know and accept Jesus, but they followed and stayed with Him. It is not enough for us to see Jesus as the Lamb, but we are invited to remain with Him, to become His true disciples.

Valentinus Bayuhadi Ruseno, OP

Baptism and the Cross

Baptism and the Cross

Baptism of the Lord

January 10, 2021

Mark 1:7-11

Baptism of the Lord is one of the defining moments in the life of Jesus. The synoptic gospels [Matthew, Mark and Luke] writes this event, though with their own perspective and emphasis. We are in the liturgical year B, and thus, we are listening from the Gospel of Mark. Mark’s version is noticeably the shortest, but it does not mean it does not deliver powerful message. The Baptism of Jesus in the river Jordan is a turning point in Jesus’ life. After this Jesus will be in the desert for 40 days, tempted by the devil, but he will prevail. Then, from this, Jesus will begin His public ministry, and unreservedly move toward Jerusalem, to Cross, Death and Resurrection.

Often, we ask, “why should John baptize Jesus?” We are well aware that John’s baptism is an outward sign of inner repentance. If a person repents, it means that the person has been living a sinful life. Does it mean that Jesus is a sinful man, therefore He asks for John’s baptism? Surely, Jesus who is God, is perfectly sinless, but the question remains, “why should Jesus be baptized?”  Mark does not give us a straight answer, yet the Church offers us the reason. Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “The baptism of Jesus is on his part the acceptance and inauguration of his mission as God’s suffering Servant. He allows himself to be numbered among sinners… Already he is anticipating the “baptism” of his bloody death… [CCC 536].”

Simply put, Jesus’ baptism speaks of this solidarity with us sinners, and this solidarity does not stop in the symbolic baptism of John, but this will find its fulfillment in the cross. As sinners, we deserve to die, but it is God who dies for us. The Church’s answer is beautiful, but is it truly in the mind of the evangelists, especially Mark?

When Jesus is baptized, Mark describes the sky is ‘torn apart’ and a voice came, “You are my Son, the Beloved…” The Greek word for ‘tearing apart’ is ‘schizo,’ and the same word is employed again by Mark when he recounts the happening in the Temple when Jesus died on the cross: the giant curtain that separates the holy place and the holiest place inside the Jerusalem temple [see 15:38]. Meanwhile, Mark also recounts a Roman centurion proclaims that Jesus is truly the Son of God, after witnessing remarkable events during Jesus’ death. From here, we can draw an interesting insight. With this basic pattern between what happens in baptism and in the cross, Mark is telling us that these two events are indeed related. The Baptism points to the Cross, and the Cross is the fulfillment of the Baptism.

It reveals the reason why the Father is so ‘so well pleased with His Son.’ The reason is through baptism, Jesus signals to all of us His eagerness to do His Father’s will. Though Jesus is sinless, He takes up our burden of sin and dies for us as proof of the Father’s love for us.

If in His baptism, Jesus accepts the cross, we, as the baptized Christians, are also called to carry our crosses. As we share Christ’s cross and carry it faithfully, we can hope to love radically. As we love deeply, we may hope for our salvation.

Valentinus Bayuhadi Ruseno, OP