Saturday, March 4, 2017

"Offer to God only what is worth offering." - St. John Vianney (Reflections on the Gospel of Saturday after Ash Wednesday, Luke 5:27-32)

Jesus calls Matthew to follow him, and what's the first thing Matthew does? He gives a great banquet, not only for Jesus, but for his friends, so that they too, sinners and outcasts like himself, might come to know Jesus and experience his mercy and forgiveness. He knew that great blessings aren't meant to be hoarded but generously shared.

Allow me to share with you a very brief reflection from one of the letters my spiritual director - God rest his soul - wrote me many years ago. In it he says:
"Remember that your vocation, your choosing to follow Christ by entering seminary, isn't your own. You are here, not so that you can become holy, pious, devout, intimate with Jesus, or so that you may enjoy the fruits of a life lived in fidelity to the demands of this state of life.
Your vocation belongs, first and foremost, to the Church in whose care you have now placed your entire life. It belongs to the Church, because the Church is the People of God, the people of your diocese by whose generosity and kindness, your life in seminary is supported, the people who, by their prayers, support you every minute of your day, without you even realizing it, the same people whom you are meant one day to serve as a priest, with your whole heart, mind, body and soul. 
It is to them that your calling to the priesthood ultimately belongs. Remember, it isn't your own. God gave it to you freely; you must give it back in service to his people, freely."

How generous have we truly been in giving of ourselves to the demands, both big and small, of our life in formation? "Offer only to God what is worth offering", says St. John Vianney. Do we recognize that everything we do, from the most noticeable to the seemingly insignificant, is meant to be an offering of ourselves, in generosity to God and His people, for the many blessings we've received from and through them? 
How many of your peers in college, have everything they need, from spiritual to physical nourishment, readily available at literally every hour of the day? Do we think about the comfort and ease our life in seminary affords us? Do we keep in mind that the only return the Church asks of us is to generously give of ourselves to our formation? 
Matthew received a great blessing in the person of Jesus, and the only thing he could think of was to generously share it with others. We who wish to be like him and follow Jesus' invitation, must do the same.

"The Kingdom of Heaven is a condition of the heart." (Friedrich Nietzsche)