“THROW YOUR NETS ON THE RIGHT SIDE!”

NEWS from JAPAN

1.indexjapannews     

     The new Fiscal Year in Japan begins in April, coinciding with the season of spring. Usually, March is time for evaluation of the mission the “year past” and May, setting of directions for the “new year”. Here, we share an abridged article that came out in the April issue of the English Bulletin of St. Ignatius

Parish in Tokyo where we do collaborative work. A similar article under a different title, also came out in Japanese, in the Jesuit publication, MAGIS.

 

          As we begin a new Fiscal Year, perhaps it is good to look back at what has happened to us last year. In John de Britto English Center, the pandemic has challenged and stretched us too, on 1. how to organize the Liturgy given many protocols and restrictions 2. maintain the sense of community of the members without the usual activities or big celebrations 3. sustain the faith without easy access or reception of the Sacraments, 4. continue NEW EVANGELIZATION, i.e. of seeking the lost, those who have gone astray, became lukewarm in the faith and; introduce Christ and the GOOD NEWS to the Japanese, who do not know or have never heard of Him.

       “Throw your nets out on the right side of the boat, and you will catch some.” Remember this famous Gospel narrative in John 21:1-8? It is one of the most poignant Resurrection scenes. The disciples continued to be in Holy Week mood –, nostalgic of the past, depressed, directionless even after Jesus has Risen. At the beginning of last year, were we not like Peter and the disciples? In our Ministries and Groups, we continued to “throw our nets” on the left side because that was what we were used to. But as the pandemic continued, with reluctance and murmurs, we took risks to try new ways. What if, we throw our nets out on the right side of the boat? Will we catch some?.”

1.YouthJapan

 

The pandemic limited attendance to Sunday Mass, so we opened two. One was live-streamed, making it accessible to many who could not go to church for one reason or another. The other was led by the Youth Group who were only too happy to have a time slot more convenient for them. The young Altar Servers could not function, but several became confident lectors and readers in the Family Mass after some brief training. The English Choir was reduced to two members, had to go through an audition and rigorous practice, but their voices filled the church as if they were many. The catechists of the English Sunday School created videos for children and they were creative and fun! The monthly English Bulletin which is for information, formation, and evangelization was published on the website and has now a wider readership. Many migrants who already went back to their countries or have relocated to other places became connected again to their beloved “St. Ignatius” where they had their “conversion” and good memories of the support of the community. The Faith Formation and Faith Sharing Groups switched to ZOOM. Technology has now become a wonderful tool to continue their sharing and discussions! The leader of the Praise and Worship could not sing so they switched to e-mails to encourage members to be in greater solidarity with those in desperate need of prayers. Retreats were placed in YOU TUBE and stirred the hearts of many as if they were delivered face-to-face. The traditional Christmas Party could not be held, in lieu, donations collected were given as gifts to members in need. There were no overflowing crowds during the Christmas Season Masses, no passing of the collection box, but the amount collected for Sri Lanka and the Philippines was overwhelming given these hard times!

          Pope Francis said, “We cannot remain stuck in the nostalgia of the past or simply keep repeating the same old things. We need patience and courage in order to keep advancing, exploring new paths, and responding to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.” (Homily, Feast of the Presentation of our Lord, February 2, 2021).

Also, there are people who go to the English Center, without strength, without hope. I realize, that, especially in these still pandemic times, what is important is what our Determination says, “to be, balm, warmth, kind presence, an impulse of hope, comfort along the way, encouragement, provoking question, be expert in “communion for one another”

Let us, therefore, continue to savor the joy and power of Christ’s Resurrection. Let us help one another recognize, like the beloved disciple John. “It is the Lord!” He is right. “Catch your nets on the right side, and you will catch some.”