St Francis Q&A

Sunday, January 25, 2009

3rd Sunday - homily

For many years, the Archdiocese has had vocations retreats for boys and girls in high school. As a seminarian, I helped out with a few of the boys’ retreats which were 2-3 days in the summer. Some of the boys called it, “Priests Camp”. They would have fun and play games but there would also be the stuff of priesthood: Mass, confessions, prayer, and talks on the priesthood. The retreat was officially called, “Come and See”, which is based on the call that Jesus gives to the first Apostles: Come and see what life with me is like…come and see what I am calling you to.

The Archdiocese actually asked me to give talks to the boys about my vocation story. I told them about how I entered seminary (after the craziness of college and high school)…how I left seminary…then re-entered seminary…then left again…then re-entered again! When I discussed leaving the seminary the first time, I said that I felt like the rich young man in Matthew’s Gospel who Jesus calls to sell everything he has, give it to the poor, and come follow Him. The man couldn’t do it, and so he walked away from the call, ”sad”. That’s the way I felt. I had heard God calling me to the priesthood but I didn’t want to do it. So, I walked away from the call, sad.

We see and hear different responses to God’s Call throughout Scripture and Tradition. We see the response of the rich young man which is to walk away from God’s Call. We also see the response of someone like Jonah who answered God’s Call to be a prophet but his heart wasn’t in it. We hear in today’s first reading that Jonah prophesied to the town of Nineveh and helped convert that town. What we don’t hear is that Jonah had resisted God’s Call initially. He tried to run from God, but realized he couldn’t. So, he’s only serving as a prophet because he realizes that there’s no way out. We might say that he’s simply going through the motions.

Then, we hear the response of our patron saint, Andrew, in today’s Gospel. Andrew is called by Christ to “come after me”. Andrew and his brother Simon “abandoned their nets” and followed Jesus. He responded immediately to God’s Call and his heart was in it. It really is an incredible response that we shouldn’t overlook. He gave up everything on the spot to follow Jesus! He gave up his job. He gave up his livelihood. He left his family. He abandoned his own plans. He abandoned his own hopes and dreams.

Andrew didn’t know what he was getting into. He didn’t know what being a fisher of men meant exactly. He just knew that it would be good because it was what Jesus was calling him to do. As we heard in last Sunday’s Gospel, he believed that Jesus was the Messiah. So, whatever the Messiah wanted him to do, he would do. Andrew showed great faith and trust in God. He showed great love and generosity in answering God’s Call. He is a great example for us to follow.

We see the different, general responses to God’s Call when it comes to the Eucharist. We know people who have had the different responses. Some have heard God’s Call to receive the Eucharist and have left. They have left the Church…they have left the Eucharist. Some come here on Sundays and receive the Eucharist, but their hearts aren’t in it. They are doing God’s Will in being here, but we might say they are going through the motions. Some have responded to the Eucharist as Andrew responded to Christ’s Call: immediately and generously. They come here on Sundays and even weekdays with hearts that are open.

The key in responding to God’s Call is our hearts. Are our hearts open to Christ? Are we open to what He is calling us to do? Have we put ourselves in a position to encounter Him? I really believe that Andrew responded the way he did because he had had an encounter with Christ. Just like the woman at the well in John 4, Andrew had encountered the living God in a deep way and his heart had been moved. This is what changes lives. This is what changes hearts. This is what leads people to leave everything to follow Him. May we be open to encountering our God today in the Eucharist so that we will do His Will today and throughout our lives.


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