Christ is risen, alleluia! Good Day dear sisters and brothers in Christ. We rejoice today because it is the Lord’s Day, the Day of the Resurrection of Jesus. It is that special day every week God gives us so that we might rest and enjoy our family. We are also glad because we see signs in nature that Spring is here. We don’t mind the rain too much because it washes away the dirt of winter and it refreshes all green growing plants and the wild animals and birds. We rejoice in God, our Creator and our Refuge, even though the pandemic still causes us to suffer inconvenience, hardship, and in some cases illness and even death. We are glad not because of the suffering, but we rejoice because Jesus is Lord of Creation and He and the Father permit this pandemic for good reasons which we do not yet understand.
We have the testimony of Peter and Paul and the other Apostles, and we also have all the testimonies of the saints that God loves us and that Jesus is our Good Shepherd. Our parents, our bishops, our religious, and our priests have also told us these things. All these witnesses make it reasonable for us to believe that God is good and that He loves us. Still, there comes a time when testimonies from others are no longer enough. That is because God our Creator has put deep in our soul an intense desire for us to know God personally. We want to know from our own experience that God is God, that He loves us, and that our lives are safely in his hands.
Sometimes God makes Himself known to us in dramatic ways, with power and glory, but most of the time, God makes Himself known to us quietly, discretely, gently, deep in our soul. In fact, we can be blessed by God’s presence and action but take it simply as something natural, and then we let it slip away into forgetfulness. If we never stop to ponder our experiences in life and never sit quietly in God’s presence, we never learn to notice the Holy Spirit whispering in our soul. That is why it is so important to take small steps, to come visit the Lord in the church when it is quiet during the week, to come early before Sunday Mass, and to sit quietly at home.
We can sit quietly in God’s presence in church or at home in a prayer corner, in front of a holy image, statue or icon and pay attention to the Lord. In the silence, we can open the Bible and let God speak to us using the words of the Book of Psalms, or Proverbs, or the Gospels and the letters of the Apostles. At times, as we sit silently in God’s presence, the Holy Spirit may open our memory and remind us of the many moments throughout our life when we felt God’s presence, his love, or his healing grace at work within us or in our family.
The Bible is God’s sacred history of salvation which He has in every generation offered to his people from the beginning of time. God also has a sacred history of salvation with each and every one of us. We may not be aware of God’s sacred history with us if until now we have never stopped to ponder our life from our conception until today. As we decide to take the time to sit quietly in God’s presence, in church or at home, and visit with God, pondering his visits to us in our lifetime – as Mary pondered these things in her heart – then the Holy Spirit can wake us up to the sacred history God has been building up with us until today.
It is primarily in silent contemplation and prayer that the Holy Spirit can teach us to remember and to recognize the saving presence and action of God in our lives. Then we can acquire our very own conviction that God is alive, that He is good, and that He loves us, that He loves me. From that moment on, once I personally recognize that God has been with me all my life, and that I have a life-giving connection with God through Jesus; from that moment on, I can know Jesus as my Good Shepherd and be convinced that He is with me at all times.
In this way I become truly connected with God the Most Holy Trinity. There is no trouble on Earth – no pandemic, illness, pain or suffering, no loss of job or income, fire or destruction, no prospect of dying that can frighten me. God is greater than all these threats, and I can know inside myself that in his own time God will save me from all such dangers and troubles.
Our Baptism and Confirmation in the Most Holy Trinity are God’s power at work in us through life as God fills us with divine life and love, making us truly daughters and sons of God with Jesus as our older brother. It is this realization that we belong to God and that He is our treasure that motivates women and men to marry and have children, raising them up to know and love God. This is also how men hear Jesus calling them to follow Him and to serve his people as deacon or priest. This is how women and men hear Jesus calling them to join a religious community and dedicate their lives to serving Jesus in his people the Church.
Two weeks ago, I turned 72. I have been privileged and blessed to serve Jesus as one of his priests for almost 38 years now. I look forward to serving Him for the rest of my life, and I will be glad to do so until I am in my 90’s. However, I no longer serve like Fr. Francis in the Parish all week long. I stopped being in parishes full time 7 years ago in 2013. Who will take my place? Jesus is still calling men to follow Him, but are they being quiet enough to hear his voice? Perhaps they are afraid to hear Jesus calling them or to answer his call.
From a human point of view, it could be terrifying to think about becoming a priest. But that is because being a priest is not a job. It is not only a human activity. Before he ordained me a priest, Archbishop Grégoire said I would be “welded to Christ. Jesus would join his mind, heart, and soul to my mind, heart, and soul.” He spoke the truth. It is a wonderful adventure to become a priest and to live my life joined to Jesus, loving and serving Him in his Church.
Please pray for the men Jesus is calling that they may not be afraid to listen to his voice and to answer Him. We even have a priest who was married, has a daughter, was divorced, and his marriage was annulled. Jesus then called him to be a priest. Christ is risen, alleluia!
Let us put all our trust in God the Father, + the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Let us take a few moments in reflect on Jesus’ tender loving care for us.
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