There was a significant number of young people at my second Mass yesterday morning. It turns out that several of them had attended a parishioner's wedding the day before. Hearing and reading these readings for the third time in less than 24 hours, I set aside my notes and this is what more or less came out. As I continue to reconstruct that homily, the more it is becoming a paraphrase and even something considerably different. Ah, well.
I was happy to see this church full when I arrived at the altar, especially noting the young adults who are here. I can't help but suspect that, somewhere in the assembly, there is at least one vocation to the priesthood or consecrated life.
I often wonder what keeps that from happening: the desire for worldly success, or for grandchildren, or possibly the fear of such a commitment? Here's Solomon at the threshold of ruling over Israel, dumbfounded. "All these people, all this responsibility! How am I going to do this?"
The answer: he's not. Here as always, credit is due to God "whose power at work within us can do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine" (Eph 3:20), if we but ask.
Earlier in Hebrew history, Moses became overwhelmed by the prospect of liberating his people from Egyptian slavery to the point of refusing outright. Later in the saga, he became so fed up with the people's wilderness whining that, eventually, he pleaded for support; and this came in the form of seventy elders.
To accomplish the task at hand, we must rely on the Lord and on others--the two sources of assistance are not incompatible.
"Those he called, he also justified" (Rom 8:30b). God dares not wait for us to become worthy or acceptable in order to entrust us with our life's tasks. Rather, He justifies us--sets us straight--and this is not a "once-and-done" action on God's part. It can't be, only because we so often knock ourselves out of alignment by sin.
The priests I've known from my earliest years did not give me the impression that the priesthood would be an impossible calling for me. That's no insult to them; if anything it's a testament to how effortlessly, though imperfectly, they celebrated the Sacraments, proclaimed the Gospel, and gave people care and direction; and all because of God's power at work in them--and all because of the personal gifts they placed at the service of God and people.
This area traditionally was known for the production of many religious vocations. In bygone days there were many more children in general; that change is worth a homily of its own! But we can't rest on our laurels; we can't base our reputation on yesterday's vocations. Yes, Jesus promised that He'd be with the Church until the end of days; but there needs to be serious, prayerful consideration of this calling right now.
Working persons are the basis for "Social Security"; they are the living guarantee that the nation and her citizens will go on. So, too, we need faithful, passionate Catholics who invest in the Church's physical and spiritual flourishing.
I am in fact convinced that some of you are called to total and immediate service of the Church, in much the same way that a man forsakes all other women for the knowledge and choice of this particular woman. We take inspiration from Our Lord's comparison of the Kingdom to a treasure that is worth the sale of all our possessions. Is it worth it? You bet it is!