Max is getting ready for his senior year in college. While he is doing this, he is also trying to sort through a question that has been coming back to him again and again: Am I being called to the Priesthood? When he first thought about it, he immediately pushed the idea out of his mind. That was when he was a senior in high school. But lately it’s been coming back into his mind more and more.
Max confided in a close friend that he was thinking of priesthood. And the knee-jerk reaction of his friend was to say, “Why would you want to do a thing like that? Don’t you feel that you’d be throwing your life away? You’re an incredible student and would be able to do so many other things with your gifts and talents. And there is also the idea of giving up having a wife and family—-living a life of celibacy. Don’t you think that would be difficult?”
But then his friend calmed down and said, “Max, any decision you make, I will fully support you. But I certainly couldn’t see myself doing anything like that. I just don’t have the temperament.”
Max had been considering whether he should say something to his pastor. So, one Sunday after Mass he did just that. The Pastor was of course very encouraging and even suggested that Max speak with the Vocations Director of the Archdiocese.
The following Sunday, Max was at Mass on the campus of his school. As he was listening to the readings being proclaimed, these two verses, for some reason, stood out for him: “Speak to the whole Israelite community and tell them: Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy.” And this verse: “If any one among you considers himself wise in this age, let him become a fool, so as to become wise.”
The next day Max called the Vocations Director and scheduled a time to meet with him. He wanted to seriously begin discerning if God was calling him to become holy through the Priesthood.
I think we all can see that the “wisdom” of this age isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. We begin to see more and more that living a life without faith would be difficult indeed. But the only way that we can really follow Christ is to learn to trust Him. And coming to that point in our life can be sometimes very difficult.
I have been on the Admissions Board for St. Charles Seminary for a number of years now. And I have heard many “vocation stories”. I would often think to myself as I see a candidate sit there and tell his story that these young men certainly have so much more to deal with than when I was in that position some 43 years ago. Life seems much more complicated now.
Often, what you would hear would be the story of a young man coming to the realization of what St. Paul was referring to in his letter to the Corinthians, that there wasn’t real happiness found in all the “things of the world”. And despite all the scandals, these men, and those who are in the Seminary now, see hope for the future.
This homily wasn’t intentionally meant to be a vocations talk, but I guess I can’t help myself. But no matter what vocation we feel God is calling us to, we must cling to the values that last—-the ones that have their root in what has lasting meaning and will see us through the good times and the bad. For most of us, the only way to open the door to this is to become a “fool for Christ” and see that the wisdom of this world is really foolishness in the eyes of God.