Monday, July 27, 2020
Fr. Matthew Gomez - The Archdiocese of Miami
When I was in high school, I went on the Encuentros Juveniles retreat and it changed my life. I made the faith my own and I was able to begin living out the faith that my parents had instilled in my brothers and me. As I continued in the Encuentros Juveniles movement, I came to know of the symbolism of the pelican, which is the movement’s mascot (for lack of a better word.)
I quickly grew to love the pelican. First and foremost, it is an ancient symbol of Christ, seen in many ancient churches and even some catacombs. A legend says that when a mother pelican can’t find food for her young, she pecks at her breast and feeds her young pelicans with her blood.
I hope that sounds familiar.
Every day at the altar we are fed with, not the mother pelican’s blood, but with the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Therefore, we have the symbolism of the pelican as Christ. If that wasn’t enough, the pelican is an excellent fisherman. The success rate of the species of pelicans that plunge-dive for fish is over the top.
Recently, while on vacation with my family, I had an opportunity to watch these birds make that plunge. Many pelicans were just hanging out on the beach with us. When lunch time came, they took flight, one by one. They would soar up and away from the water, swoop down and glide mere inches above the Atlantic Ocean, not moving their wings for yards and yards. Finally, when their eyes caught a glimpse of lunch, they would motion upward, and even in the midst of a wave, splash! In an instant the pelicans would disappear and reappear with their heads jolting backward, the sign of a successful fishing trip.
You might be asking yourself, why is Father Matthew writing so much about pelicans? He must really like these birds. Yes, I do like pelicans, but it's more than admiration. These majestic creatures taught me something very valuable.
As I begin this new ministry as vocations director for the archdiocese, the pelicans taught me how to fish. And not just me — it is a lesson for all of us.
The pelicans were all hanging out on the beach, but if they were to eat, they couldn’t just sit on the water waiting for fish to enter their mouths. No, the pelicans had to go out and fish. They had to wait for the right moment when they could glide and with eyes open search out their target before striking.
We need to recognize that we are all in this vocations ministry together. We need to take flight and scour the shoreline for fish. We must take flight and search in our ministries, youth groups, altar servers, schools. The waves and wind conditions may never be perfect, but even in that imperfection God is still calling and our hunger for priests is still real. In the face of waves and wind, we must take that plunge!
Let us be inspired by the gifts and talents that God has bestowed upon the young men he is calling to be his priests. Let us take the plunge and invite those young men to consider a vocation to the priesthood. Let us wholeheartedly and valiantly go fishing like a pelican.
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- Give to the Burse Fund to help offset the cost of educating Miami's future priests: adomdevelopment.org/bursefund.