Sunday, February 7, 2016

Lower Your Nets

The Annual Pastoral Appeal is our diocese's yearly effort to generate funds for programs at the diocesan level such as the Office of Schools and Centers, tuition assistance, legal counsel from diocesan attorneys, support for our seminarians, retired priests, social services, outreach ministries, and many others.

In short, your donation to APA helps our Church bring mercy and hope to our local and broader communities. 

If you've given in the past, thank you for your support. We hope that we can once again count on your pledge this year.

If you haven't given before or maybe not in a while, we hope that you will prayerfully consider doing so this year. 

With an assessment of just over $240,000 for this year, Incarnation Catholic Church has the wonderful opportunity to play a large role in being instruments of God's mercy and hope through our support of the diocesan level programs and initiatives funded with APA dollars. 

So maybe you've given before to APA, maybe you always give, maybe you've never given and never will. Whatever your situation, I can't assume to know where you are right now financially or more important spiritually. I don't know why you're here today - be it obligation, desperation , inspiration or adoration. I don't know your heart. But, it is to your heart that I'd like to speak this morning. I pray that the Holy Spirit may speak through me and that He would open the doors of your hearts so that you might hear His message today.  

In today's Gospel Jesus encourages the apostles to, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” I propose that this is His command to all of us today as it pertains to APA. 

Put out into the deep water and lower your net for a catch. 

Maybe today the deep water is the incredible transforming work that is only made possible through the programs supported through APA. Think of the teachers across our diocese who receive professional development through APA funds. The students in our Catholic schools that receive tuition assistance and can attend one of our Catholic schools because of your donation. The seminarians that are formed and educated and who will be one day, God willing, shepherding us because of APA. Migrant workers that are offered social services.  Retired priests - the Church's faithful servants - that are provided for through APA. Medical services, legal representation and advice, prison ministry - all are made possible when we put out into the deep water.  

God is calling us out into this deep water. He is calling you to be a part of this transforming, live giving, merciful, hopeful, redeeming work. 

"Put out into the deep!"

And in addition to this encouragement to meet Him in these deep waters, He is also calling us to lower our nets. Maybe today those nets are our prayers. Maybe today those nets are our financial donations. Maybe today those nets involve our time or talent in an Incarnational way - for us to actually get involved with one of these ministries. However feeble any of those may be - however weak the net - God is still calling us to lower it. Like the disciples, especially Peter, we may doubt the success of the cast. What good can my prayers do? How will the few dollars that I think I can actually give make any sort of difference? Like the disciples, today we may be responding, "Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing." 

God is calling us to lower our net...for a catch.

So, like Peter continues, let us cast it anyway, "But at your command I will lower the nets." It's not for us to deny Jesus the opportunity to transform our bread and wine into His Body and Blood. It's not for us to sit on our five loaves and two fish and assume that it's too small for Jesus to turn it into something that could feed 5,000. We know this story and ever other miracle - don't doubt that those miracles continue to occur because they do every time we step up and out in faith in service of the Gospel.  

Meet God in the deep waters of APA today. Cast your net - whatever that is and however meek and humble it may be, because once we go out into the deep waters and have the courage to cast our net, we must faithfully expect that the catch will be plentiful beyond measure. Today's Gospel continues:

When they had done this - that is - put out into the deep and lower the nets - they caught a great number of fish
and their nets were tearing.
They signaled to their partners in the other boat
to come to help them. 
They came and filled both boats
so that the boats were in danger of sinking.

Put out into the deep, friends. God is not on the safety of the shore and He did not make you for the comforts of sandy beaches - He made you for the greatness of the open waters. 

Cast your nets, friends. Use the gifts, talents, treasure and graces entrusted to you to make this world a better place. Prayerfully consider what that is and how God is calling you to play a part in His story of redemption through APA this year. Be faithful; God will be successful.  

There are envelopes in the pews. Take one and pray about how God is calling you to be an instrument of mercy and hope through APA this year. Feel free to cast it in the collection basket this morning with your pledge or even donation. In advance, we thank you for your support of the Annual Pastoral Appeal and I thank you for your time and attention this morning. 

Put out into the deep water and cast your net for a catch

For more details about APA, visit this link: