Father Steve Grunow offered this homily at Mass today, cutting to the heart of this Sunday's challenging scriptural readings to help us realize that the true spiritual life is not a mere "affirmation of our desires." They are far too small. Vocation is a greater reality calling us beyond our perceived riches into the happiness of a life lived in imitation of Christ.
Our scripture readings for today commence with a selection from the Old Testament Book of Wisdom.
The content of the Book of Wisdom represents Israel thinking through the implications of its faith in the God of Israel. The author of this book begs questions and answers as he thinks through what it means to believe in God and to live in a unique culture that accepts that God is at the center of life and the activities of culture.
Today, the author ruminates on the question of what is most needed or important in life- is it wealth, security, power? No. Is it fame or honors? No.
What is needed most in life is wisdom. What is wisdom? Wisdom is discernment, particularly a discernment of God's will and purposes for one's life. With this discernment comes clarity, a clarity that is not just about practical matters, but about what is most important.
Without wisdom we settle for the satisfaction of nothing more than immediate need or we fixate on the ephemeral, mistaking ancillary goods for the most important Good that is God.
Our second scripture is an excerpt from the New Testament Letter to the Hebrews.
The Letter to the Hebrews is a curious and mysterious text. It is not so much a letter as it is a kind of theological essay and it represents, like the Book of Wisdom, a thinking through of what of the implications of Christian faith and belief.
Whereas the Book of Wisdom examines the unique way of life that is the Israel of the Old Testament, the Letter to the Hebrews examines the unique way of life that is the new Israel, the Church of the New Testament.
Remember, the Church is not just a religious discussion club, non-for-profit charity, or merely an extension of your family of ethnic identity. The Church is the new Israel- it is a people called forth by God in Christ from all the nations that is meant to display to the world through its unique way of life that God exists, God matters, and that humanity is invited into relationship with God through Christ.
This is what the Church is. This is who we are...
What does it mean to be a real man? Below, Christopher Kerzich argues that all men would do well ask this question and to contemplate the "vocation to Manhood." He offers five Biblical principles on the topic.
Before addressing the men’s group at my summer parish assignment I began thinking about what to say to a group of men older and wiser that me about call, vocation and mission. After unsuccessfully writing on a variety of topics I remembered a quote that impacted my discernment to enter seminary. The late John Cardinal O’Connor, Archbishop of New York once said:
“The priesthood is tough and it’s for real men. You have to be a real man if you want to become a priest.”
The striking thing about this quote is that one could interchange the word “priesthood” with a variety of other nouns, with a variety of vocations. So this began me on a path to explore one vocation that is rarely discussed: The Vocation of Manhood.
As we see on the news and throughout society, what it means to be a man is miscommunicated and quite possibly under attack. We see the projection of men as brutes, abusers of women and drugs, as well as violent animals. Our society may soon have the majority of an entire generation in which men are not raised by a father. So I began looking for a source for exploring this vocation at the center of all men.
Now I’m not going to write and tell you of my great experiences and how I’ve derived deep wisdom from them, this would be naïveté and quite possibly stupidity. What I am going to discuss are principles that are at the center of every man, principles that we all can recognize in our lives which have been shown to us by Christ. So through an exploration of five principles I hope all men can have a better understanding of our vocation, call and mission as men...
David Archuleta, of American Idol fame, recently announced that he is taking a hiatus from his pop-star career to serve the Mormon Church as a missionary, and in his faith tradition, David's story is not unique. Is there a Catholic equivalent to this commonplace religious commitment? Maybe we should create one. Rozann Carter explains.
The December 30th issue of the Wall Street Journal ran on Op-Ed piece about David Archuleta, the American Idol Season 7 Runner-up who is putting his musical career on hold for a 2-year stint as a Mormon missionary in a foreign country. “A pop star trades the stage for 10-hour Bible-teaching sessions in a distant land,” read the article’s sub-title, which went on to cite “roughly a third” as the percentage of young Mormon men (average age 19) who elect to serve as missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
David Archuleta, because of the “idol” stature of his sacrifice, was painted as a hero by some, a fool by others, and at the very least, an anomaly by the remainder. But, within his own faith tradition, as evidenced by this article, his decision is 1-in-3. His choice is commonplace. His pronouncement, barring the fact that it was made on a concert stage, is somewhat routine.
And, I would argue, therein lies the beauty...