Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Familiar Voice of the Good Shepherd

Homily from the 4th Sunday of Easter - World Day of Prayer for Vocations - Year A 

Deacon Ben Muhlenkamp
Our diocese has great reason to celebrate today.  This weekend at St. Matthew Cathedral in South Bend, two men from our diocese were ordained transitional deacons.  And in one year, they will be ordained priests.

Some of you might know one in particular, Ben Muhlenkamp.  Ben was assigned to St. Vincent’s last summer.  And he spent many years involved in our LifeTeen program as a teen and serving on the Core Team. 
Ben, and our other brand new deacon, Jacob Meyer, discovered God’s will for their lives, their vocation, by listening to the familiar voice of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd.

Deacon Jacob Meyer
Deacons Ben and Jacob, as well as Deacons Matt and Tink Coonan, who will be ordained priests on June 11th, and Mr. Jim Fitzpatrick and Mr. Jerry Kohrman, two men from our parish who will be ordained permanent deacons, listened carefully to the familiar voice of Jesus.

They heard the familiar voice of Jesus here in the Church.  They heard his voice by receiving the Sacrament of the Eucharist and Reconciliation.  They heard his voice through prayer and the reading of Sacred Scripture.  They heard his voice in the time they spent in youth groups such as LifeTeen.

And these men also heard the familiar voice of Jesus in their homes during times of family prayer.  And through the Christian example of their parents.

More men from our parish continue to listen to the familiar voice of Christ the Shepherd.  Next year, God willing, Chris Lapp will be ordained a deacon.  And we continue to pray for the other men from our parish who are discerning the priesthood: Matt Soberalski, Joe Trout, Spenser St. Louis and David Huenick.

We must continue to pray for them every day.  And we must pray for more men to follow in their footsteps.  And, we need to pray that the young women from our parish will consider becoming a religious sister.

Today, the Church throughout the world is celebrating the World Day of Prayer for Vocations.  And I would encourage all of you to make a visit to our Blessed Sacrament Chapel tomorrow/today to pray for vocations.  The Blessed Sacrament will be exposed until 6PM Sunday.

And I would especially encourage young people who think God may be calling them to a vocation to the priesthood or religious life to make a visit.  If you don’t have a driver’s license yet, tell mom and dad you’d like to visit the chapel to pray for your vocation.  Better yet, parents, ask your children if they’ve ever thought about becoming a priest or sister, and then you bring them here to pray for their vocation.

I will often ask your sons and daughters if they are going to be a priest or a sister.  I’ll say, “Joe, are you going to be a priest?’  You know what answer they give most often? “I don’t know.”  And I say, “Perfect answer.”

They don’t know… yet.  And the beauty of their answer is that it reveals that they’re not closed to the vocation of being a priest or a sister.

I remember one year at the Youth Mass and Rally at the March for Life in Washington D.C., Cardinal Wuerl asked if there were any young men our there who have ever considered the priesthood to please stand.  Likewise, he asked if there were any young ladies who were thinking about becoming a sister to please stand.  And when these dozens and dozens of young, high school men and women stood, the place went nuts with applause.

We need to encourage very strongly our sons and daughters who are thinking about being priests and sisters.  We should support them with so much love and encouragement that they would feel no shame to tell someone they are thinking about being a priest or a sister.

We need to get priesthood and the religious life on the radar of our young people.  Because the familiar voice of the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, is trying to speak to them.

However, we know all too well that there is a lot of noise in the world that is trying to drown out the voice of Christ.  In the Gospel today, Jesus speaks about the voices of strangers who try to lead us away from him.

What are these strange voices?  I think the loudest voice out there that is drowning out the voice of Christ is the super-abundant excess of media and entertainment.  Our ears are filled with iPod buds, our eyes are glued to Facebook and our fingers and constantly twitching out text after text after text.

Now I’m not saying these things are all bad.  I have an iPod and I text.

And the Pope himself said we should use social networking sites like Facebook to evangelize and connect with one another.  But internet connections can never replace the face to face connection of another human being.  And iPods can never substitute for the still, small voice of Jesus who is calling out to you in moments of silent prayer.

There is no sweeter sound on this earth than the familiar voice of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who calls out to us, His sheep, by name, and leads us where He wishes us to go.  If you don’t know what His voice sounds like, turn everything else down and listen.  He speaks to us in the silence of prayer.  He speaks to us in the sublimity of the Sacraments.  He speaks to us through priests and sisters.  And he speaks to us through parents and friends.

Remember that. He speaks to us through parents and friends.  And consider this: you might be the very instrument Jesus is trying to use to call one of his future priests or sisters.  Talk to your sons and daughters about the priesthood and religious life.  Because they need to hear the familiar voice of the Good Shepherd.

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