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Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus summons Apostles whom he shapes and sends on mission. Priests, through the centuries—from Augustine and Aquinas, to Francis Xavier and John Henry Newman, to John Paul II—are the descendants of those first friends and apprentices of the Lord. They have been needed in every age, and they are needed today, for the kingdom of heaven must be proclaimed, the poor must be served, God must be worshiped, and the sacraments must be administered.

Spiritual fathers are required especially in our time, when a rising tide of secularism threatens to overwhelm the religious impulse. We are wired for God; we will never satisfy the deepest longing of our hearts apart from God. 

The secularist ideology teaches that sufficient amounts of wealth, pleasure, power, or honor will make us happy. Who will counter this? Who will speak to this culture of the beauty of God? Who will remind us that our lives are not about us? Who will break open the words of the Gospel and spread out the banquet table of Christ’s Body and Blood? This is why we need priests.