Developing the apostolic zeal

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

“Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” (Lk 5,4) Famous words of Christ addressed to Simon Peter which should also be addressed to each one of us. These are words that tell us to be bold, creative and zealous in our apostolic duty, and to have a universal mind insofar is apostolate is concerned.

Peter at first was hesitant to follow what was told him, saying that he and his companions tried to fish the night before and caught nothing. But then he corrected himself and did as told, and voila, a huge amount of fish was caught that floored him in amazement.

He could not help but tell Christ to depart from him since he was a sinful man, i.e., he felt so unworthy of Christ. And that’s when Christ told him that from then on, he would be fishing men, i.e., he was clearly told to do apostolate and to win new apostles.

This moving scene in the gospel should urge us to learn to trust God, and in his word and in his ways, no matter how they seem unreasonable, impractical or impossible. For this, we have to go beyond our own understanding and estimation of things, and open our mind and heart to the light of our faith and love for God and for others.

While it’s true that we have to use all our human faculties in dealing with our earthly affairs and concerns, that is, our intelligence and will, our sciences and arts, our common sense and cultural and social wisdom, we should not forget that all these would have no real value unless they are engaged with our faith in God.

We also should sharpen our apostolic skills, training ourselves to enter into the lives of everyone we meet. It always pays to be friendly with everyone, despite our unavoidable differences and conflicts. Smiling, having a warm and open disposition, will go a long way in carrying out this apostolic duty.

But even before all this, we should bring to our prayer our apostolic plans and desires, since only then can we be divinely inspired to carry out this apostolic duty as Christ wants. Only then would we be bold enough to talk about God, about things spiritual and supernatural, about vocation, with everyone.

We have to be ready to get interested in everyone apostolically. We should be interested both in the rich and the poor, those in the mainstream of society as well as those in the peripheries.

For this, we need to be patient, persevering, creative and versatile. We have to learn how to “waste time” with everyone, especially those who may be very different from us in terms of temperament, social and economic status, etc.

We should not wait for some favorable circumstances before we do apostolate. To do apostolate should be like our heartbeat. We should feel its urge the way we feel the urge to breathe, eat and drink.

Of course, to do apostolate is not a biological urge, but a spiritual one, to be triggered by an act of our will that is animated by God’s grace. We do not do apostolate because we happen to have some extra time. We do it because we are supposed to be apostles, and we always look for time to do it.

We should neither forget that first of all we should ask for God’s grace, since only then can we be truly effective in our apostolate.



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