13th/14th October

posted 18 Oct 2018, 05:54 by Parish Office

Homily for the Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

(13 & 14/10/18)


Last Saturday (at Sacred Heart, Hanley,) was our Day of Prayer for Vocations.  The Blessed Sacrament was exposed from 9:30 am to 6 pm, with a break for the 12:05 pm Mass.  But we could ask ourselves, why do we need so much prayer?  Doesn’t just God call, and people respond?  What’s the need for it all?


In the Gospel today, the rich young man can tell that there is something lacking in his life.  He is trying to find out what God wants of him that he’s not doing at the moment.  So he interrupts Our Lord as He’s preparing to go on a journey, and asks Him directly, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  He gets his answer, but he’s finds it too much to go through with.  For whatever reason, he finds it too costly, so he goes away sad.


It reminds me a bit of part of my journey of vocation discernment.  I went on a three week retreat in Portugal for those considering the priesthood, and we spent the last few days in Fatima.  On the last full day that we were there, I went and prayed before the Blessed Sacrament exposed in one of the chapels, and I said to the Lord, “I’ve been on this retreat for all this time, so what do you want me to do?”  I didn’t hear a voice, but it was more like an inner conviction that I got that God was calling me to be a priest.  Now that was quite a big thing, but I think I also needed the weeks beforehand of the retreat to prepare me for that answer.  If I had just heard it without that preparation, I might have decided, like the rich young man, that I couldn’t go through with that.


What makes a decision like that so big?  As a diocesan priest, I don’t have to take a vow of poverty, like a religious does.  Instead, diocesan priests make promises to their bishop of respect and obedience to him, and of celibacy.  For some, celibacy is the more difficult promise to make, whilst for others, it’s obedience.  But both celibacy, and poverty for religious, are about being free and unencumbered in following the Lord.


When Our Lady appeared in Fatima in 1917, she made it known that God wanted to establish in the world devotion to her Immaculate Heart, and part of that involved people consecrating themselves to her Immaculate Heart.  There are various prayers you can use to consecrate yourself to her Immaculate Heart, but one of the simpler ones goes like this:


“My Queen and my mother, I give myself entirely to you.  With confidence and trust, I consecrate myself to your Immaculate Heart; my life, my heart, and my whole being, without reserve.”


It’s a bit like the complete giving of himself that the rich young man was being asked to do, or the complete giving in a promise of celibacy or a vow of chastity – giving yourself to God can seem like quite a scary thing to do.  But they we could ask:  do we trust God?  Do we trust Our Lady?  What could be safer, than to give ourselves totally over to God and Our Lady?  It’s a bit like getting married – two people give themselves totally to each other, with nothing held back.  It’s when they begin to hold things back that trouble comes.  Just the same as getting married is a perfectly normal thing to do, so, for someone who loves God and Our Lady, giving yourself totally over to the Lord in celibacy out of love can also be a perfectly natural thing to do.  Consecrating yourself totally to Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart can be a totally natural thing to do.  There’s more security than getting married, because God and Our Lady are perfect.  If you marry another human being, you’re marrying someone who is imperfect.  Of course, when you give yourself over to God and Our Lady, it does mean, though, that any imperfections, faults and failings are your fault – you can’t blame anyone else.  It also requires much prayer on the part of the one being called and much prayer for the one being called to celibacy for the heart to grow and expand, in order for that person to love that much and to want to make that commitment.


So do we need all this prayer for vocations?  Oh yes we do.  Prayer is the water that makes vocations flourish.  Let us pray then, and see God work His miracles again in His people.  He is unchanging;  we are able to change.  There is a lot of work to be done, but “many hands make light work”, and it’s certainly true of prayer for vocations.