Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Homily 2nd Sun OT Year B

callingofpeterandandrew_caravaggio Last week was National Vocation Awareness Week so this weekend we pray that vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life will be multiplied and renewed. We pray especially for three of our Louisville seminarians who are from this parish: Sean McKinley, Tony Cecil, and Deacon Stuart Priddy who will be ordained a priest in May. It is Providential that our readings this weekend describe the beautiful calls of Samuel in the Old Testament and our Lord’s first apostles in the New Testament. Through these beautiful accounts we can learn about God’s will for our lives as well.

One of the things that stood out to me is how these calls came about in close proximity to our Lord. This is a very important lesson to us all today. They form a sort of model for how our Lord calls us and how we should answer. In our first reading, Samuel was “sleeping in the temple of the LORD where the ark of God was”. Now, I hope that none of you falls asleep this morning, but you get the idea. Samuel was near the ark of God, the ark of the Covenant, which in the Old Testament stood for God’s very Presence. And after he consulted the old high-priest Eli he learned that the call was authentic and how he should respond. Then the Lord “was with him” and directed his vocation in a powerful way such that not a word of his was “without effect.” Please pray for me that I could have a similar blessing.

In our Gospel, St. Andrew and St. John began to follow Jesus when John the Baptist prompted them as Jesus “walked by.” Jesus said to them, “Come and see” and they “stayed with him that day.” Later, Andrew’s joy from this encounter led him to find his brother Simon Peter, to share with him the good news of the Messiah, and to bring him to Jesus. Then Jesus looked Simon Peter in the eyes and named him Cephas which means “rock”, the rock on which Jesus built his Church.

Together these two accounts of Samuel and the first apostles teach us three things. First, we hear God’s call best when we are close to him. Second, often God uses others to direct us to him. And Third, we should respond with humility, openness, and promptness. When I look back on my own life and my calling to the priesthood I see that by the grace of God, this model played out with me too. Although not always like Samuel, Andrew, John, and Peter, I am humbled by how God brought me to where I am today. For most of my life, in a way I was like Samuel who, according to our reading, “was not familiar with the LORD, because the LORD had not revealed anything to him as yet.”… Tell Vocation Story…

For me, what began as an intellectual exercise, reading more and more about why we believe what we believe, became an experience and a way of life. By the grace of God, I fell in love with Jesus, and with His Church, and with what He teaches us through her. Our vocation in life, what God is calling us to do, can never be just a matter of intellectual curiosity; it affects one’s whole life. A person cannot understand God’s will unless he has a deep personal friendship with Christ. Therefore, in our Gospel our Lord does not tell Andrew and John in detail about his way of life; he invites them to spend the day with him. What God is can only be understood through communion with Him: words cannot fully describe it.[1] Our Lord invited everyone when he said “Come and See”. And like the disciples we must obey his command and learn by personal experience.[2] Only by living with him and knowing him can we ever really know ourselves and the vocation he intends for us.

Just as Samuel was near the ark of God, and the apostles spent time with Jesus where he “stayed”, I began to spend more and more time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament getting to know him and his will for me. Just as Samuel answered the Lord, “Speak, for your servant is listening” and just as Andrew and John “followed Jesus”, I tried to respond by praying to God that I wanted to know his will for me as much as I wanted to each lunch that day or to have a roof over my head. I prayed that God would help me to desire his will for me as much as I desired to meet my basic needs.

God used Eli to call Samuel, he used John the Baptist to prompt Andrew and John, and he used Andrew to call Peter. In a similar way, the Lord used a Protestant girl to put me on the road to the priesthood! And he used many others too, like Fr. Michael Wimsatt who was ordained a year ahead of me. His first words to me were not “Hello, my name is Mike” or “Hello, nice to meet you,” but “Have you ever thought about being a priest?” That got me thinking more about the priesthood. And God used my friends and other priests in the Archdiocese who encouraged me and gave valuable advice.

I pray that you too will grow in confidence in God’s will for your life. I hope the accounts of God’s call in our readings today will bear much fruit for you. Spend some silent time with our Lord in the tabernacle. Rest with the ark of God. Maybe you could spend 15 minutes a day in adoration or an hour per week. Live with him and allow him to change your life. Who has He placed in your life in order to bring you to Him? Who are you called to bring to him? Our responsorial psalm gives us the proper approach: “I have waited, waited for the LORD, and he stooped toward me and heard my cry… ears open to obedience you gave me… then said I, ‘Behold I come’… ‘It is prescribed for me: To do your will, O my God, is my delight, and your law is within my heart!’”

[1] Navarre Commentary on St. John, p. 51
[2] St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on St. John

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