Last week, I received an email from a friend, a woman in Philadelphia.
She wrote: “This morning we received devastating news at Mass. Our beloved Augustinian pastor has been diagnosed with liver cancer that has spread to his lungs. The priest who told us said that he was visiting him yesterday when a cousin came into the hospital room and told him that they are all praying for a miracle. His response was, ‘I have already received a miracle. I am a priest.’”
Those words were on my mind and in my heart this week. Today, “Good Shepherd Sunday,” is also the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. The Church asks us to pray for young people to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd mentioned in this Gospel, and to answer his call.
It is a call inviting us, as that priest knew, to be a part of a miracle.
Every Sunday, we gather in these pews and witness the greatest ongoing miracle in human history: God giving himself to us in the appearance of bread and wine.
Even now, after almost nine years as a deacon, I can’t believe I have the privilege of being at this altar every Sunday. And I can’t believe anyone would not want to be here.
A great poet once said that the “world is charged with the grandeur of God.” Well, at every Mass, the electricity begins right here.
But that’s just the beginning. Every day, the world is being recharged, reenergized, redeemed by prayer and service, sacrifice and sacraments. We are uplifted and fed by the Eucharist.
And it happens, whether we realize it or not, for one singular reason.
It happens because there is a priest.
Surveys tell us again and again that clergy and religious report among the greatest job satisfaction in the world.
That’s because it’s not a job. It’s a vocation.
As that priest in Philadelphia knew: it is, in fact, a miracle.
The challenge facing us as a Church: How can we get more young people to want to be a part of that miracle? Let me suggest three things.
Read the full homily here.