We have already celebrated the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles and are now in the Afterglow of this great Feast of Pentecost. In today’s Gospel we hear the call of Jesus to those who would follow Him, fisherman, at first instructing them to take up their nets and follow Him, becoming fishers of men. You see Jesus needed helpers and went out to find them. He chose ordinary people like us to respond with their whole hearts, making them extraordinary by His grace, in order to accomplish His purposes.
We look at the lives of those who followed Him initially, Simon, who became Peter, “The Rock”, upon which the Church of Rome rested, Andrew the great missionary and the patron of the Church of Constantinople, John who became the patron of the Church in Ephesus and was titled, “the theologian”, as we understand it to this day. You see ordinary men who by their work transformed the entire world for Jesus, becoming, “fishers” of men and women ushering them to the Kingdom of God.
Every life, whether of a man or women, young or old, rich or poor, educated or uneducated can be transformed into a calling. Every task, whether that of teacher or a student, a professional businessman, a homemaker, a chef, entrepreneur, athlete, musician, sportsman etc. can be experienced as God’s call.
The essential key is closeness to God, for it transforms ordinary tasks into extraordinary ones by God’s grace when we conscientiously place our lives in God’s hands through faith, when we seek God’s purposes in our tasks, when we recognize their usefulness from God’s viewpoint, and when we accomplish them as service to others for the glory of God.
Today is also the Feast of the Saints of North America, a special day set aside following Pentecost to celebrate the lives of the saints who have touched our continent. Saints whether from Russia, Volynia, Galicia, Uhorschina, Serbia, Alaska, Lebanon, Syria, the Carribean, who have taken upon themselves the tasks that God has given them, bringing many to the Holy Orthodox faith.
Our own St. Herman of Alaska, a simple monk toiled in Spruce Island for decades to help in every aspect of life. St. Nicholas of Zhica, while still suffering from the physical tortures of the concentration camps, came to Pennsylvania to teach young American boys the truths of our faith, preparing them for the priesthood. St. Raphael of Brooklyn as well as St. Alexis of Wilkes-Barre worked in teaching the faith to the newly arrived immigrants who founded Churches across the entire length of this country. St. Matushka Olga from Alaska who nurtured the native Yupik speaking people of the Three rivers in Alaska about the Love of God.
These are the ordinary men and women who became not only extraordinary but “saints”, in the Church in America, and yes there are many more to come, who also likewise struggled in the early days to administer to the faithful.
So as we celebrate this Sunday of the Saints of North America let us remember how they responded to the “call” of Christ and maybe we too might be called in a similar way to bring all peoples to the knowledge of truth.