Cycle B – 2016
Acts 13:14, 43-52; Psalm 100; Revelation 7: 9, 14-17; John 10: 27-30
I don’t remember his name, but “Daffy” was the nickname we called the priest who was the Dean of Men in my first seminary. In life people often cross our paths and teach a lesson or leave us a piece of wisdom. We both move on but what they offered us remains with us. The lesson that “Daffy” taught me was that to be assured you had a vocation to the priesthood you needed two “calls”: a call from God and a call from the people of the Church. Without both calls “Daffy” said, you do not have a vocation.
When we talk about vocations in the Catholic Church we have usually meant priesthood or religious life; vowed women and men who live in community many of whom taught or cared for us; The Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet, The Sisters of the Resurrection, the Daughters of Charity or the Holy Cross or Christian Brothers. Vocation though has always been broader then priesthood and religious life. It also includes the decision to remain single, to marry, to enter the ordained ministry of the deacon, to vowed monastic life and to being widowed. Each of these lives reflects a different aspect of God to the Christian Community as well as to the world. All of us have a vocation, because all of us our called. And that call was first voiced by God at Baptism. In our parish at the moment of the pouring of water we sing, “I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have called you and you are mine…” At the root of “the call” is God’s love for us and for the world through us.
Vocation; “the call” consists of a listening, often a lifetime of listening, and a response.
In our culture with so many voices calling in so many directions it is difficult to listen. Many of us struggle to listen so distracted are we or have forgotten how to listen to each other thinking through responses in our head and presuming what the other person is saying or going to say. Communication breaks down and we don’t even realize it. My mother has often hung up the phone on me when she realizes I am not listening to her. Even a 90-year old can hear the clicking of the computer keyboard in the background as we believe the lie of multitasking. Listening to another person needs our full attention. Who is listening to Jesus?
“My sheep hear my voice…and they follow me. I give them eternal life…” [John 10:27ff]
What then does it mean to listen to the voice deep within our heart? A voice that may come on a gentle breeze, a passing comment by an insightful person, a song lyric that echoes with our heartbeat, a familiar verse of scripture or not so familiar that pricks our attention, or a phrase in a novel.
When and why were you called?
When and why were you called to marriage? Why was Marie, who volunteers in our Food Pantry called to being a Sister of Saint Joseph? Why have you been called to being widowed? Why was I called to priesthood? Why did you choose to be single?
And what of our response?
I know a young man who hears the voice of God every day calling and is aware of the confirmation of God’s people. His struggle is with the response. A major obstacle for all of us responding positively to God’s call is fear; fear of the future; fear of whether I am good enough; fear of failure; fear of being worthy; fear of…what is your fear?
Consider some of the people God has called in the past:
- Jacob was a crook, and with the help of his mother deceived his father Isaac and stole the birthright meant for his older brother;
- Sarah was a cynic laughing in the face of God for suggesting that she get pregnant in old age;
- David after being called and anointed King of Israel revealed himself in adulterous and murderous affairs.
- And what can we say about the bumbling and stumbling group of guys we called the Twelve Apostles? They never understand Jesus, they abandon him and they never recognize him when revealed as risen Lord.
- And the saints and holy ones of our community? Dorothy Day had affair resulting in an abortion; the martyr, Oscar Romero was a quiet, bookworm; the Trappist monk, Thomas Merton drank excessively and was a womanizer; Teresa of Kolkata doubted the existence of God.
God calls whom God calls. God calls flawed, imperfect people. God calls people who fight against the call. God calls people who make excuses not to respond. God calls…
One side of the coin is to ask, when and why were you called but there are men and women, girls and boys among us who need to be asked: are you being called? And what vocation is God calling you to live out for the sake of the church and world?
Remembering that “Daffy” said there were two “calls” necessary for a vocation, the second being that of the Church. The raising up of vocations and the fostering of vocations is a responsibility of all the people of God. So on Saturday, 7 May 2016, Bishop Sharfenberger is calling people from across our diocese to gather at the Shrine of the North American Martyrs in Auriesville for a Vocations Summit.
Fr. Tim Birney of the Archdiocese of Detroit will offer a keynote address as well as offer a session for clergy. Mr. Sam Alzheimer of the the Diocese of Savannah will speak on introducing vocation discernment to our young people and Rhonda Gruenewald of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston will offer practical ideas to the laity. Nowhere else are vocations given birth then in the local parish and in the midst of Catholic families.
Who should attend? All Catholics interested in promoting vocations. There is no cost but your time. The day will run from 8:45 in the morning to 3:00pm. I encourage you to read brochures that are in the bulletins and checkout the website. Registration can be done via the website.
Please consider attending and if you are unable, pray for those who are married, ordained, vowed and single. Pray for Catholics to have the courage to offer a word of encouragement to a young person they see has the qualities for Holy Orders, Marriage and Vowed Community Life. Pray for those who prepare couples for marriage; form men and women in religious communities, and are members of seminary faculties and vocation offices.
God is calling.