Many people are dazzled by the men who begin to discern their vocations after having achieved temporal (worldly) success; entering seminary formation after careers as lawyers, doctors, high-level business executives and from very lucrative careers. Obviously there is mystery and intrigue when a man leaves behind everything of the world and follows the Lord. There is also a stereotype that I fought personally and which many men who meet me seem to struggle with a belief that priesthood is reserved for the bookish, the highly intelligent, the “cream of the crop” of the intellectual world.
These men are among the flock of very good priests, but so are those who don’t have these particular gifts which make them successes in the business world. If I were to point to one quality which all of us need aspire to, it’s to be simple and humble and to allow God’s will to be first. God reveals Himself to us often through the most unassuming people, in the most unassuming ways. It’s meant to be this way. The message for today is not that we “dumb it down”, if we are gifted intellects, simple humility and simplicity will help us be the instruments God desires us to be. The message is that we must not close ourselves off to any way the Lord chooses to reveal Himself to us. If we do, we become the “wise” who put our ways first.
Woe to you! Today we hear Jesus speak out against the nations who are living for themselves and not for God. Many of us can get pretty down and negative about the world we live in and how secular and indifferent so many are to the Good News. I think what we must take into account is that now there are two and three generations who haven’t really heard the Good News. They have some kind of idea of “Christian” which usually isn’t very positive. They have pre-conceived ideas of what Christianity is and who Jesus Christ is; and neither Church or Jesus is very compelling at all. I would contend that if this is the case, then we are living in a world that isn’t even really Christian, and so perhaps what we would once have referred to as pagan. It’s not that Jesus didn’t speak again invincible paganism, but when He calls out those who are eternally damned, He is calling out those who have chosen to ignore His Divine Word.
Now this doesn’t mean that there’s no accountability, but the Lord works out the plan of salvation directly with those who haven’t received His Word and Deed because of no fault of their own. Instead, this is a Gospel that should be a rallying cry for us all. This is rallying cry that “we might go out to all nations and make disciples”. This is our vocation, but this is what we do when we believe that Jesus will condemn anyone, we try to help them. Let us consider today how we might help our brothers and sisters who might be in a woeful state, and until we do we have work to do. May God bless you.
Jesus really mixes it up today; as He tells us that His purpose in coming is not just to make for more peace. One of the hard realities of our time is that many of us have misinterpreted Jesus. When we ask the question, “what would Jesus do?” the answer shouldn’t always be to make peace and speak only words of love. Of course those things are essential to the true message of Jesus, but as today’s Gospel points out – sometimes we need to speak the truth when it makes our hearing of it uncomfortable, when it challenges and even convicts us. But there is a way to go about this which if we know Jesus; we know He would want first! We must be about self-conviction, self-challenge first and always. We must share the truth always in charity; that is, in a manner which is governed by true love for others and a sincere desire to want what’s best for them. We cannot be self-righteous; we cannot be judgmental or governed by dissatisfaction with the world and the people in it. It is inevitable that at some point in time, if we are truly living the Gospel we will be at odds with someone for it.
As Vocation Director, I look for men who are strong of character with kind and loving hearts. With men who are growing in their love, care and concern for others. Men who love God and by extension and in the way our Risen Saviour calls us to, love others. It’s all these things, and I am truly amazed that I have very little problem finding this in the men who I meet. The strength of character is needed to speak the truth in love, and not to be wishy-washy about it. That same strength of character is what allows these men to be sure that they have discerned the truth well themselves, questioned and re-questioned themselves but then to stand firm in their faith even in the face of adversity. As we all seek to live our faith today and every day, may we come to have that strength of character that we may be firm and fair in our faith always. God bless you.
That we are called to be disciples is without question, how we go about it can be the difficult part. When I think about what the real purpose of the Office of Vocations, it is to help men and women who have realized through a growing awareness in their faith that they are “called” and in fact, having admitted that, now are readying themselves to live that out in the way particular and unique to each of them (us). Jesus sends out the disciples two by two. He gives them their “marching orders”. They take only the things they need for the mission and ministry they are now ready to do. In fact, this departure we have to remember is a “test run” because it’s what will prepare them for doing what they will do when the Lord ascends into heaven after the Resurrection.
Over the last couple of months, I have been busy with some of my team in helping to prepare the Totus Tuus missionaries who have begun Week II in the parishes already. At the beginning of June we walked together 195 kms and through much of the northern part of the Archdiocese of Toronto where the Jesuit martyrs gave their lives for their faith in the 1600’s. Sts. Charles Garnier, St. Noel Chabanel, St. Jean de Brebeuf and St. Gabriel Lalemant died in Huronia, in the area around Martyr’s Shrine in Midland. We began in Brampton and reached Midland eight days later. Our 24 missionaries were tired and sore but with the others who joined us we were “on fire” when we arrived. A few days later we brought in the “best of the best” of Catholic teachers, apologists, catechists and witnesses to help teach our missionaries how to catechize the young people (Grades 2 to 12) they will work with throughout the summer.
Several years ago, my predecessor, Fr. Hansoo Park put together a team of seminarians and staff and after spending time “learning the ropes” launched the Totus Tuus program here in the archdiocese. This year was my first year of involvement, and it has become now a partnership between the Offices of Vocations & Catholic Youth. Many people have asked me why Totus Tuus would have anything to do with vocations, and have told me that I might be better focusing on “other things”. My answer to this is the point of reflection for today. These missionaries, inspiring young Catholic university students have spent an intense period of time with our Lord Jesus as they prepared themselves for this part of their mission. It too is kind of a “test run”; a test run of what they are called to do with their lives. Some will discern God’s will for them is the priesthood or religious life. Others will discover they are called to marriage and to find a way to give themselves totally and completely for God and for others. No matter exactly what it is, they are called to discipleship and the Lord is showing them the way. They are living simply and powerfully for God’s purpose and their meaning within that. This is why the Office of Vocations remains committed to Totus Tuus and these special disciples. They are coming to discover that which is not easy to discover what God has in store for each of them.
In the coming weeks, I hope to share more with you, or have the missionaries share something with you on the “Come, Follow Me” blog. In the meantime, as we consider our own intentional discipleship may we be inspired by the Lord who sent forth the first disciples and may we continue to pray for our own vocations and those of this year’s Totus Tuus missionaries. May God bless you.
We’re back! Today marks the beginning of my return to blogging for the Office of Vocations. When I created this blog, I contended that the Lord speaks to us day by day about vocations and most of the Scriptures attest to this. The Office of Vocations commits itself to trying to reach as many people as we can throughout the Archdiocese of Toronto, asking all of the faithful to consider continuing to renew and rebuild the Catholic Church by generously giving our lives to the “mission”. At many of our Toronto ordinations to priesthood, Cardinal Collins refers to the next step of the faithful Catholic men who are ordained priests as “marrying the mission”. We celebrate the many men who are serving and who have gone before us serving in this capacity, but they have not built up the Church of Jesus Christ alone. All of us have a part to play in that, and God willing we will continue to.
When I created “Come, Follow Me”, my intention was to blog a lot more than I have been doing. I made the commitment to a daily blog posting through this past Lent, and now with the help of some of our seminarians from the Archdiocese of Toronto, I am going to try to make the daily commitment of publishing a vocations post on our blog for your pleasure. I pray that these reflections are helpful, and I will supplement them from time to time with other reflections throughout the year.