The prophets are rejected in Jerusalem. My friends, you don’t have to go to the Middle East to find that place either! Jerusalem is all around us. Just because we are Christian, we are not immune from rejecting the Word of God; in fact when we act like hypocrites, when we think that others are in any way inferior to us, when we act in anyway unchristian towards others – we too are the ones rejecting the prophet. Is that any of you? Well, it can certainly and often times be me. As I ponder the word of Christ in today’ s Gospel I know that there have been many times in my life that I have allowed my own doubt to guide me and my actions. There are many times I have allowed my own insecurities and issues motivate me not to be as kind to others and in fact to be downright uncharitable. I have rejected God, and yet He has never, ever rejected me. But there is hope! Jesus has given me (and you) a brand new day and has called upon me to seize that day to make today a better day, and tomorrow an even better day than that. On the third day, I remember that all was accomplished and the Son of God gave me that opportunity, mindful of yesterday and what the last moment was of my failings to be now and opportunity to be a greater, better Christian. My friends, let us consider in this moment that instead of worrying about who’s going to think or say or do what to us (Jesus isn’t concerned about Herod) let us concern ourselves with living and giving witness to the Gospel in the place we are at this very moment in time. May God bless you.
Hypocrites; once again Jesus decries hypocrites. Man, those hypocrites! I’m being a bit facetious here but it’s important for us to remember there’s a danger that any one of us can become a hypocrite and not even see it happening. To preach and profess one thing, but live in a completely different way. As a matter of fact, I find as a Catholic Christian and as a priest, I am constantly falling into the category of hypocrite. We can all become hypocrites when we fall or turn from the true essence of our faith and live and preach something else. And if you think you don’t struggle with this, I’d like to meet you, because even in the Gospels the Apostles and disciples are constantly falling into hypocrisy without even knowing it.
Knowing God and why God asks us to honour the Sabbath gives us all a sense of why we should go to Mass on Sundays, why we ought to tithe (give for our community), why it’s important and to reflect upon what we give to it and receive from our faith and the practice of our faith. If we look at those Jesus chastises in today’s Gospel with disdain, we better make sure that we’re living in as upright a manner as we can, and it’s important that we get the message that Jesus is challenging us all to know why we do what we do – for God. He is not suggesting that honouring the Sabbath, or our holy day is of little or less importance.
The “prime directive” of our faith, if you will is to love God and love one another. This motivates our every action as Christians. Unfortunately, the problem with this mere statement is that it is not a true reflection of many of our own faith-driven actions and/or our faith experience. I wish I could say it was, and I wish I could say that it was my own driving force always. But friends, we live in hope. For young men and women discerning a special calling, a vocation to priesthood, religious life most of the people I meet as Director of Vocations are at least sincere in trying to place this directive at the root of how we live our lives.
All too often, sin gets in the way. I’ve remarked on this before and I’ll say it again; it is always disappointing when people let sin get in the way of their calling. Either we give up hope or we give too much attention to our sins, but there are many who are very good people, people whom I see very capable of giving generously to God and to others but who believe that they are too sinful or too evil to try.
Then there are others who become so fixed in what they believe is the essence of faith – and it doesn’t speak of God’s love or a love we can bask in, absorb and then share or emanate; give outwardly in a divine way.
But we are reminded and we reflect. Today’s Gospel calls us all to “get our head back in the game”, to get ourselves once again on the right track. Our vocation; whether to be a husband, wife, priest, religious sister or brother is meant to further this commandment. We are called to share and give the love of God; not demand it, not require it – share and give.
My friends, hear the Lord call you intimately to Himself, to live and give witness by your vocation. It will be the way you bring more love for the true God into the world, and as a result great love to your sisters and brothers!
Probably one of the most disappointing things in our times (and all times for that matter) is that we don’t use one of God’s greatest gifts to us for its intended purpose. We were given the gift of our intelligence so that we could intimately know our Lord and God. And we use it for other things. We have for a long time and throughout human history used this gift especially not for its intended purpose. In today’s Gospel, Jesus cautions us on something if we stop and reflect most of us struggle with to some degree. We perceive things, seek to understand things, grow to know things but in the end, when we are given the Gospel, the Revealed Word of God so many of us reject or ignore it. The intelligence we use to perceive, know, understand other things we seem less inclined to exercise these gifts in God’s direction.
I see this too in vocation work. One of the greatest obstacles to discerning a vocation is a lack of trust. We see that God brings men and women to discern a religious vocation; some discern well and know it’s not for them (God leads that too) but for others they can’t see what’s right in front of them; that a vocation to priesthood or religious life might just be the way God is revealing to them the way they will lead many, many others closer to Jesus and the Church. I am edified by the men and women responding, there is no denying that – but to the others who might walk away I ask you to hear Jesus’ words today. You see the presence of God in the world around you, you hear Him calling you closer to Him. Listen to Him, trust Him and know that He is the one drawing you closer to Him to leading and living a joyful life through your own unique and particular vocation. May God bless you.
Today’s Gospel and the refrain of the psalm seem to be in conflict with one another – they seem to be. Living by the Gospel, living a life of faith is going to be difficult; it’s going to put you in opposition to the people you care about in your life. If this is the case, where is this great goodness our lives are filled with; that the psalm refrain refers to?
There’s a price to pay for living our faith; there’s a price to pay for not. We have to make the choice! We do pay a price when we live our faith, and the price we pay is that there will be people in our lives; those close to us and around us might reject us or reject what we seem to stand for to them. But whether we are rejected or feel dejected by those who care for us; our loved ones will grow to accept our faith if we truly live it and if they don’t we can be assured that there is a problem somewhere there for those loved ones, deeper than we can penetrate – but Jesus can! We have to trust Him. On the other hand, we are really the only ones who suffer by not living our faith. For many of us, we feel out of sync, disconnected, not really living for our meaning and the purpose God created us to live for –which we can only find with faith.
The great goodness we will find by living our faith far exceeds the suffering we undergo for it. That we are promised that we are assured. I go one step further and suggest that living our faith meaning seeking to find our true vocation; what and how God calls us to live that faith; maybe as a married man or woman, building the glory through family; each family a solid brick or block of the Holy Temple of God’s Church. Maybe it’s through spiritual generation we offer as a priest, religious sister or brother; a consecrated person for God – that is we seek to find. I can assure you that is a challenge too; part of the challenge Jesus offers us in the Gospel today, but not a challenge each of us should shy away from.
Today’s Gospel follows upon yesterday’s call to be vigilant. It’s important for us not only to be vigilant, but as Jesus tells us in the parable today – when we aren’t we will be judged for our actions. Our Lord’s call should not scare us or make us fatalistic. It is however a warning of the dangers of complacency in our lives of faith.
I’m often careful about telling my own faith and vocation journey story with young people because I don’t want anyone to get the impression that they should put off fully engaging their faith lives until later, as I did. As many who know me know, I didn’t become Catholic until I was 31, and four years later I was in the seminary and ordained a priest when I was 41. I lived ¾ of my life without Jesus Christ in it. But since then, I desire to be nowhere else but with my Lord and God! Living for myself and my own desires for so long, there is often a temptation and danger to think like I did (and St. Augustine did when he put off giving himself to the Lord) that it’s better to wait until tomorrow or later to give ourselves in faith; let’s live for today. The experience of so many of us is that our lives are accounted of us before we know it – so it’s truly better to live right now in the way we want to in the end. This is not fatalistic, but realistic. None of us know the hour, but we are accountable for our whole lives when it comes.
My brothers and sisters, live your life fully and completely for the Lord and for others now. The future starts now, not tomorrow. I can assure you that this is a decision you will not regret.
There can be a temptation for all of us to become so exasperated by our own inability to overcome our shortcomings, failings and sins that we feel like giving up. As a confessor, I know this is the case for many of the people who come to me. “It’s getting no better, Father. I’m still just as sinful today as I was yesterday”. There is no hope and a lot of despair in this comment, but I know this is a common sentiment – and a common attitude or disposition. I know this not only as a confessor but also as a penitent. There is a temptation that exists in many of us, myself included, to want to give up because we see little or no progress in our own spiritual lives. There can be a temptation for most of us to simply just give up trying. Today’s Gospel reminds us that we mustn’t do that; and we have to conform ourselves to a new way of thinking. We have to allow ourselves to trust in the Lord. If He’s asking us to be vigilant, to keep working at it – HE SEES THE PROGRESS even where we don’t.
As you know, my reflections in my present ministry as Vocation Director take on a vocational theme, and while this message is one we can all be reminded of; it’s especially one I hope those discerning a vocation to priesthood or religious life will be particularly mindful of and hear the words of Jesus today. I say this because the beauty of the calling to serve Jesus configured to Him as a priest or consecrated person often makes the discerner feel they have to be better to the average person. The Lord has given you the tremendous outpouring of grace to open your heart to priesthood or religious life; the heroic spiritual tools to live this life, if it’s for you – but you will struggle with weakness and sin! I turn to St. Peter, my own personal hero. If we look at the Gospels, especially the Gospel of St. Mark – Peter fails many, many times. I’m inspired by him because he never gives up. He perseveres, he confesses, he sheds some tears, he falls and then he gets up and keeps going, loving and serving our Lord day by day. The early days of Peter led him to the day when as the head of the Apostles he gave his life and was crucified in Rome. He was vigilant! Brothers & sisters, keep your head in the game, and keep on trying. The Lord truly appreciates your vigilance.
Although I was born Catholic I was not raised Catholic – but I am, however, a product of the Catholic school system. Having gone through the Catholic system I did receive all the Sacraments of Initiation such as First Communion, First Confession and Confirmation. However, it was in Grade 10 religion class that I first heard the call to actively return to the Church. We had to do an assignment on one of the seven Sacraments and for some reason I can’t explain the Eucharist really jumped out at me; and so this was the Sacrament I chose to do my assignment on. It was in the course of doing this assignment that I was evangelized by the Church’s teachings on the Eucharist and began to develop an understanding (really for the very first time) of what the Eucharist is; or I should say, of Who the Eucharist is. For some reason, I still can’t fully explain, while doing the research for this assignment, I never doubted or questioned the Church’s teachings on the Eucharist – instinctively I just knew that what I was reading about the Church’s teachings on the Eucharist was true.
It was in the course of this that I started to develop a strong yearning to receive Communion as intuitively I became keenly aware that my spirit was in (what I can only describe as: a state of decay) and desperately needed to be nourished by this Sacrament. This prompted me to start attending daily mass; and I remember well the very first time in years that I did receive Communion – it was at a weekday mass at my high school, and almost immediately I felt a difference, and could sense that the Eucharist (which I had just received) was nourishing and feeding my spirit. Soon afterwards, that feeling of my spirit being in a state of decay went away and daily Mass became an integral part of my life.
When I look back on this experience, I realize that the Eucharist was at the heart of my call to return to the Church – and in a way that I can’t fully explain or understand, the Eucharist is also now at the heart of my call to the priesthood. In other words, it’s my desire to be deeply united and connected to Christ in the Eucharist that is at the heart of my call to be a priest. For years, I fought this call, feeling that I was not worthy, capable or ready for such an important role and ministry in the Church. In 2010, I could no longer ignore the call, and with the prompting, support and encouragement of my parish community, St. Michael’s Cathedral, I applied to the seminary for the Archdiocese of Toronto. I still do NOT feel worthy, capable or ready for such an awesome call, but I am now willing to give it my best and I have no doubt that the Lord will be with me every step of the way.
My Name is David Twaddle, and I am from Unionville Ontario and I was born and raised Catholic. During my childhood, I assisted as an altar server at Mass at St Justin Martyr Parish. In my later years in High School and College, I slowly started drifting away from church on Sunday. I studied Aircraft Maintenance Technician at Canadore College in North Bay. I worked as an Aircraft Mechanic Apprentice for a year and a half. I was laid off from my apprentice job after the industry when through some troubled times and soon found a job at a sign company in Toronto where I worked as a sign installed for the next six and a half years. Reflecting back on my work experience, as I was installing signs that would help direct people to places, God was giving me many signs directing me back to Him. Just before starting that new job at the sign company, I started returning back to church on Sundays and slowly started to rediscover my faith, and getting more and more involved with parish activities. My involvement with the Knights of Columbus helped me to rediscover my faith and become active with others in my community. At that time, priesthood was at the very back of my mind, but it was not until I made a walking pilgrimage from Toronto to the Martyrs’ Shrine in Midland, it was during this pilgrimage that I began to fall in love with the Mass. It was the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist that moved me to give my life to him. After journeying to World Youth Day in Sydney Australia in 2008 I felt that God was calling me to the priesthood. I entered seminary formation in 2008. My years in the seminary and my one year internship placement in St Clement Parish in Etobicoke, has brought me great joy for the Church and the people of God, and as I enter into my final year at St Augustine Seminary, I look forward to serving the people of the Archdiocese of Toronto.