Homily for January 26

Homily for the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

(Audio for homily)

If Jesus were to walk up to you, get right in your face and say,
“Come with me – I’ve got some work for you to do...”
- I think it would be pretty clear that you should follow him.

It was something like that here
when Jesus called Peter and Andrew and James and John.

It wasn’t like that with me.
I didn’t see Jesus.  I didn’t hear Jesus.

But there was someone who walked up to me
and got right in my face.
Her name was Kathy, a friend in high school.
And she walked up to me and asked if I’d heard anything
from this priest who had come to our school to talk to all the boys
about becoming a priest.
I told her no, I hadn’t heard from him
and asked her why she thought I would have
since I didn’t know him and he didn’t know me -
I was one boy in an assembly hall of 400.

She shrugged and said she just thought he might have called me.

I pushed the question again
and Kathy 'fessed up that she had scooped one of those
“Send more information” post cards the priest had left
and filled it in with my address and phone number
- and sent it to him.

I was (how shall I put this in church?) - “dumbfounded”
and I asked her,  “Why would you ever do that?”
And she answered, “Because I think you’d make a good priest.”

And that, that was the beginning
of my thinking about becoming a priest.

The visiting priest’s talk had done nothing for me
but what Kathy did planted an idea in my mind and heart
and – well, you can see where it took me.

So, did my vocation come from Kathy?  No, I don’t think so.
I believe my vocation came from Jesus -
who nudged Kathy to hand-deliver the invitation to me.

Some of you have heard my "Kathy story" before
but I think it’s worth retelling,
especially alongside today’s gospel.

When I was in high school (I graduated in 1965)
parish personnel consisted of priests and nuns –
and in the rectory, a housekeeper.

Today I live in a rectory - but I have no housekeeper.

What I do have is a parish staff of 12 which includes 1 priest, 1 nun,
8 lay people, 2 married deacons (and a very active retired deacon).

Times have changed.

I don’t know who "delivered the invitations" to our staff members
now working in pastoral ministry, faith formation,
liturgy and administration
-- but I know that those invitations ultimately came from the Lord.

And I know we pray for more of those invitations to be accepted
when we pray every week in the intercessions
for “men and women being called to serve God’s people…”

That’s a prayer especially for young women and men
the Lord is calling, inviting,  to serve God’s people in the Church,
as priests, nuns, deacons or in lay ministry,
like the other men and women on our parish staff.

But it’s also a prayer for every member of this parish
because every parishioner is called in some way
to serve God’s people -- not necessarily in full time work --
but in any of so many ways our parish and the community
need your time and talent,
your generous giving of yourself to the Lord and to others.

Before my friend Kathy sent in that post card
I thought I wanted to become a lawyer or a teacher.
When I first found out what she’d done I wasn’t happy about it at all!
But what she did opened me up to thinking about priesthood.

So I’m wondering if this homily might open up something
for you to think about in your minds and hearts this morning:
perhaps a life’s vocation or perhaps something much simpler.

Perhaps there are younger men and women
who might consider serving others through the Church
in ordained ministry or religious life or lay ministry.

Or in the minds and hearts of anyone here:
what service might you offer the Lord and his people,
in even small ways, right here in the life of our parish?

What opportunities have you thought about responding to
right here in at Holy Family - but kept putting them off?

What gifts and talents do you have to offer
and what’s keeping you from stepping forward to offer them?

Or perhaps the Lord is asking you like he asked my friend Kathy,
perhaps the Lord is asking you
to hand deliver an invitation to someone else.

It can be scary – it was for me when I first began to seriously consider
that Jesus  might be calling me to be a priest.
And it can be scary just to consider signing up for a committee
or joining the choir or volunteering for some parish project.

But I can tell you that Kathy’s post card,
though it scared me in the beginning,
has brought me a lifetime of challenge, delight, satisfaction,
grace, hard work, joy and peace.

And I believe that whatever the Lord might be asking of you,
gifts just as great are waiting for you
should you follow where he leads.

Two things I’m sure of:
1) God calls every one of us to serve others. 
2) Every single one of us has something to offer, something to give,
a way to serve.

Right now he calls all of us to follow him to the altar,
the table where he nourishes us for the work he calls us to do,
the place where we remember how much he sacrificed for us
that we might know his joy and peace.

May the sacrament we receive here open our hearts
to hear and to respond
when the Lord gets right in our face and says, 
“Come with me – I’ve got something for you to do.”


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