SUNDAY, APRIL 26, 2015 FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Fourth Sunday of Easter speaks of the Good Shepherd who knows his sheep. He calls them, he feeds them and he guides them. Jesus is willing to lay down his life, the ultimate sacrifice of love.
There are other sheep that do not belong to his circle of love, yet he seeks them out and takes care of them as well. For Jesus, it is not just a job or an obligation, but rather a response to unconditionally love everyone.
For over fifty years the universal Church has celebrated this Sunday, Good Shepherd Sunday, as the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. We are to hear and follow the voice of Christ the Good Shepherd.
This means letting ourselves to be attracted and guided by him, in consecration to him; it means allowing the Holy Spirit to awaken our desire, the joy and the courage to offer our own lives in the service of the Kingdom of God.
The word Vocation means “to call”. All of us have a vocation, a calling.
And, if we do a little reflecting, we may find that we have more than one calling, but it is the Christian vocation, a calling from God, that is first and foremost.
It is a call to love, a love which attracts us and draws us towards the discovery of God, toward an authentic mission of self-giving. It is in this self-giving that we come to know, love, and serve God…to know, love, and serve others.
When it comes to identifying our vocation, I think the words we heard today in the second reading from the letter of St. John says it well:
We are all God’s children…what we shall be has not yet been revealed.”
It’s impossible to know where exactly vocations come from or how the Holy Spirit goes about His work.
Some of us may hear God’s call to serve His Church in lay ministry. Others serving as religious or as ordained clergy. For many of us it is a vocation through marriage and raising a family. It may also be living in the world as single man or woman.
How we choose to answer that call – or choose not to – defines us not only for this life, but also for the next. The fact is that everyone in this church today has a vocation. Every one of us is called.
Last Weekend ….
I had the opportunity to attend a retreat at Conception Abbey Seminarian College. It was their semi-annual open house for high school and college age men that are discerning vocation in their life and the possibility the priesthood.
- There were over 80 young men attending, about 15 or so representing our diocese
- Currently have 16 men in formation with four attending Conception, including our own Jacob Wright from this parish, and six men studying to be permanent deacons
- I heard testimony from 4 or 5 men about them discerning the call
- I was even asked by a few men of my own calling to the diaconate
They all have one common thread …support and love of family
- Examples from the men…accountant, football, girls, lay ministry
- But it all came back to service and the personal witness of their parents
Which brings up the importance that when we pray for vocations, not only do we pray for vocations for the priesthood, diaconate, and religious sisters and brothers, but also for the Vocation of Married life and family
We may not think of marriage as a vocation, but it is.
The Church has seven sacraments that are grouped into three categories
- The sacraments of initiation: Baptism, Holy Communion, and Confirmation
- The sacraments of healing: Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sic, and
- The sacraments of service: Holy Orders and Holy Matrimony
Marriage is a vocation; it is written into our human nature, into our very being.
- It is a vocation to which the vast majority of people are called.
- It has two clear purposes:
First, for the good of the spouses themselves and the transmission of life; a call both to faithful love and fruitful love
Secondly, as co-creators with God, married couples bring children into the world and raise then in a setting of family love, so as to prepare them for a life that leads them to heaven.
The vocation of marriage, becoming one together, takes work and prayer.
Spouses make decisions together; they trust one another, show kindness and patience. They are faithful and loving. They pray together. They are forgiving, respectful, and honor one another.
Spouse don’t always see eye-to-eye, and there are disagreements. There are storms to weather through and disappointments. But in the most challenging times, if we turn toward God, God helps our marriages grow stronger.
If you love your spouse like God loves you, you will put your spouse first. We owe that to our God and to our children.
Vocations of Service is about serving others first…whether it be a vocation to Holy Orders or to Marriage…it is about being a servant of God.
In discerning God’s call…there is a phrase that I heard throughout my diaconate formation, and it’s worth remembering:
“God doesn’t call the perfect; God perfects the called.”
Something similar can be said about the vocation of marriage,
God doesn’t call the perfect spouse, but together, the spouses perfect God’s call.
In closing, I offer up this prayer for vocations:
Thank you, Lord, for all the many great and wonderful gifts you give to our family.
Help us to live each day with joy and humility.
Keep us totally dedicated to serving you.
Teach us to recognize the many ways you make your Spirit known.
Then help each of us to accept your gift – the grace to answer your call;
to form, strengthen, and expand the Body of Christ
… We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.