Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist

In the first reading (from the Vigil Mass) we heard one of the most beautiful passages in Sacred Scripture.

It is known as the call of the Prophet Jeremiah and in it God calls a young man to his prophetic service.

The words are so touching...

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.”

From the very first moment of his life God had a plan for Jeremiah.

From the very first moment of his life Jeremiah was called to be a prophet to the nations.

And just like Jeremiah,
God had a plan for John the Baptist.
God’s plan for John was also to be a prophet.

By his preaching and his simple humble life
John was to call people to repentance and conversion through baptism.

John the Baptist gave those who followed him  the hope that they could be better people.

And in his ministry John prepared a place for God in the hearts and minds of the people  who came to Him.  

John did indeed prepare the way of the Lord.

We all know that rather than renounce his mission as prophet John the Baptist surrendered his life.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you”

When God called Jeremiah he had every excuse in the book:
I’m too young.
I know not how to speak.
Who knows what else he said?

However, in the end he gave himself to God and God’s plan.

John the Baptist did the same hundreds of years later.

Good People,
God also has a plan for each one of us.
God needs every single one of us.
From the very first moment of our lives God had a plan for us.

There is a special place for each and every one of us in the puzzle of God’s loving providence.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you”

Those words were not only spoken to Jeremiah or John the Baptist they are also spoken to us.

And just like the prophet Jeremiah
sometimes we look for excuses.

I’m too old,
or I’m too young,
or I’m too busy,
I have other things to do (That’s a big one).
I assure you God never calls at a convenient time.
You should see me when the phone rings at 3:00 in the morning.
It is not a pretty sight but I answer and I go.

Sometimes when God calls people say,
I’m not holy enough,
or I’m not smart enough,
or that’s not what I want.

Sometimes we not only refuse God’s call for ourselves
we try and convince others to do the same.

Not too long ago I was walking at the Meridan Mall and a woman came up to me and said...

Aren’t you Fr. Robert?
When I said yes n she told me that her grandson is one of the new altar servers and was so excited.

Then she said that and one day he mentioned being a priest.

Then in a rather animated voice she told me..

I’m telling you right now Fr. Robert you will never ever make my grandson a priest.

That’s not want for my grandson and it is not going to happen.

I didn’t know what to say.

Certainly her grandson was too young to decide what he wanted to do with the rest of his life.

I do know that our job is to help a person find God’s call not determine it for them.

From all of my years in Campus Minsitry I learned that when someone forces their dreams on a young person it’s a disaster waiting to happen.

Sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking
I answered God’s call and I’m all set.

I answered God’s call and
I got married and had a family.

I found the woman who would do my laundry for the rest of my life I answered God’s call.

I know I answered my call to be a priest...
I can’t imagine myself living my life in any other way.
I have never ever gone to bed at night with the thought of leaving..

I don’t smile all the time because only crazy people do that.

Truth be told,
God doesn’t call just once.
He calls us over and over again.

There are many vocations inside of our vocations.
I know I was called to be a Franciscan priest
but I also know that  was called to come to St. Paul Church in Kensington CT.

I admit I came to St. Paul with a lot of fear and trepidation.

There is always a dialog between the friar and the provincial when we are assigned but when I was asked to come there there was an extended dialog with Fr. Provincial regarding this assignment.

We as friars have the consolation of knowing that when we receive our letter of obedience it is indeed God’s Call.

And I have to say that with everything that has happened
and everything that we still have to face I am grateful for the chance to be here
to serve here
to get to know you and your families.

Being 100% truthful the only fly in the ointment for me is that my Mom is 421 miles away.

And I know part of my call is surrendering that worry and conern and offering it to God.

I know God loves her and God loves me
and I trust I have to trust that God holds her in the palm of his hand
and will send her the people she needs to care for her.

This is my call...

All of you,
Rather all of us are called everyday over and over and over again.

All of us have calls within our calls.

God needs us until our very last breath and I assure you God will call us into his service until our very last breath.

All of us like the prophet Jeremiah and like John the Baptist must be attentive to God’s call.

When God calls you and when God calls me let’s say yes
and let’s help each other say yes.

Let’s say yes without fear (easier said than done)
Let’s say yes with trust (God won’t give us anything more than we can handle)

Let’s say yes even if we don’t understand and it makes no sense.
(Remember It’s God plan not ours)

Lets say yes filled with hope and anticipation.
(For following God’s will is often a great adventure.)

For God’s words to Jeremiah
and God’s words to John the Baptist
are also God’s word to you and God’s words to me.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you”


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