Audio only: click here!
Wednesday, January 31, 2018
Saturday, January 20, 2018
Fishers of Men Video: click here
parish missionary program: click here
Today we see Jesus inviting two sets of brothers to follow him. These four disciples form some of the closest confidants of the Lord during his time of ministry, and Peter of course becomes the leader of the first Christians after the Lord's Ascension. The calling of these brothers is symbolic for all of us of our vocation, our calling to leave behind the things of this world and give our lives to Christ Jesus, but it is especially evocative of the priesthood: "Come follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." In fact, the US Bishops sponsored a great short-film on the priesthood under the title "Fishers of Men" that I highly recommend you view. If you search for the title on Google or Youtube, you should easily find the video. It's really worth it.
There are actually two types of priests. Priesthood is manifest in the church in an ordinary way and an extraordinary way. Every baptized person shares in the first form, whereas I think I am the only person in the room that shares in the second one (unless there's a secret priest hiding somewhere among us!).
Surprisingly, we are more familiar with the extraordinary way, known as ministerial priesthood. This is natural because of the visibility of the ministerial priest: we kind of stick out a little bit, whether at Mass and in the other sacraments of the Church. The priest wears special clothes even when not in Church, and has a long list of duties and responsibilities in Church Canon Law. We priests go through a process of formation. All of that makes the specific type of priesthood the one we focus on, just as when we say the word vocation we often overlook the universal vocation of everyone to be saints, and rather focus on the vocation to be a priest, sister, or brother.
So what about the "ordinary" form of priesthood? The common priesthood is something we all have by baptism. In being "little Christs," Christians also have some share in Christ's roles as priest, prophet, and king.
Whereas the ministerial priest offers the prayers of the people in worship to God, the great mystery is that the priest is truly like Christ Jesus: his role is not about himself, but about others. The priest is a man for others; another Christ, called to wash the feet of the faithful and lay down his life that they may live more fully in God. To put it simply, the ministerial priesthood is meant to build up your priesthood. My role as the leader of prayer is to help you to pray.
But what makes a priest? Is it the clothes or the particular role in Mass? Not essentially, for you all are priests. To be a priest is to be one who prays to God on behalf of others like Moses stood in the breach between God and His people, lifting up their longings to Him and beseeching His blessings upon them. So every time a parent prays with, prays for, or prays over their child, they are living their priesthood. Every time a friend prays for another friend, he or she is living their priesthood. Whenever we intercede for another part of the world that is in need, we live our priesthood. Whenever we offer up a small sacrifice, penance, or suffering, we are living our priesthood. Every time we gather at Mass and offer to God the sacrifice of praise, we are living our priesthood.
So when you see the priest at Mass “doing his thing,” you should remember that it’s not just “his thing.” It’s your thing. I stand here representing all of you, who not only consent to the action of this prayer, but are called to actively participate in it, meaning that you pray right along with me, that you offer right along with me, that you cry out to God in your heart in the same words. So as we do that in this Mass today, let us all thank God for the vocation of the priesthood, in both its forms.
Sunday, January 14, 2018
Audio: click here!
During Ordinary time these readings before Lent allow us to speak about the beginning of Christian living: our vocation from God.If you notice in today’s first reading, where we heard the call of Samuel, and the Gospel, where we heard Jesus calling his first disciples, there are some important foundations about the essence of a Christian vocation.
But before we go into those points, we should first ask what is a vocation? Ultimately, a vocation is a calling to live a God-centered life. A life with God’s will at the focus. This definition makes it clear that vocation is more than just priesthood or religious life, even though we commonly misrepresent that in language nowadays when we say things like “I think that boy might have a vocation!” Well of course he has a vocation - everyone is called to live with their focus on God and His plan for them! Okay, so now we see everyone has a Christian vocation, because all of us are called to live a God-centered life.
So what do we learn about Christian vocation from today’s readings?
First, we see that vocations come from God. It is not about our ideas of doing something nice for God. Rather, God always takes the initiative. It isn’t Samuel who calls out to God about what he wants to do. Peter doesn’t reach out to Jesus with his plans. This is present in th second reading, too, where Paul reminds us that we “have been bought at a price,” at the price of the blood of God who loved us before we could ever have earned it, because love can never be earned. If it starts with God, then any vocation require a relationship with Him, a relationship that He initiates.
So vocation starts with God, but on the other hand, we aren’t passive in this process. We have to cooperate with God’s grace every step of the way. God has given us freedom and will not impose His Will on us. He speaks his invitation and then he waits for us to respond. Vocation starts with us hearing God say “come and see.” So like any relationship, it can only flourish through our spending time with the one we love.
Thirdly, God knows more about us than we do. This shouldn’t surprise us. For one, God is outside of time, so he knows our future and our past as intensely as we know the present. Secondly, just as a painter or author knows more about his work than the thing itself, so too should our creator know more about us than we ourselves do. This is signified in the readings by calling the name of those chosen: Samuel, Cephas (Peter), and in other passages Nathaniel, Zaccheus, Levi/Matthew, etc.
Finally, God knows our desires and the way to our true happiness. This is signifies in the question Jesus poses. The first words in John’s gospel spoken by the Son of God, the Word Made flesh, are an invitation for us to examine our hearts: “what do you seek?” God asks those first disciples to reflect on their desires, not so that they can let them drive their hearts any which way, but so that those dreams can be lifted up and made new by this relationship, by this person who stands before them (and before us).
“Glorify God in your body!” Paul concludes today. This is a short summary of Christian vocation, since our bodies express our interior lives, indeed the rest of the world knows us through our bodies. I can’t mind meld with someone on the other side of the planet - that only works with God himself (and the saints and angels who are in union with God). So if God is glorified in my body, I am living my vocation, a God-centered life, founded on a relationship of love with Christ Jesus.
Sunday, January 7, 2018
Audio only: Click Here!
Resources used in today's homily:
1. Epiphany Chant: Here
2. Epiphany House Blessing: Here
3. Link to more on the prayer beads: Here
4. How to make your own prayer beads: Here