"I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me” – Galatians 2:20
In the past week I had a special conversation with two of my friends who are leaving tomorrow to join religious orders. It was kind of a “final conversation” for at least a year maybe even longer. I am very familiar with this as my brother Scott (now Brother Innocent) is a member of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. He joined them last year and we had to go through the whole transition of him leaving for New York and us not getting to talk or seem him for an extended amount of time. I am a proud brother and friend when I see my best friends leave everything behind and follow the Lord’s dream for them. Don’t get me wrong, selfishly I get sad or discouraged at times because my relationship is different with them, as they have a new life now, but my heart is amazed by the bigger picture of the vocational call. What does it take to give up everything to be a priest, brother, or sister? What does it take to look to marriage with a heart that yearns to make your future husband or wife everything to you, to sacrifice everything for them? To be Christ to the world?
Pope Benedict XVI, in his introduction homily for the Year of St. Paul, stated the following about one of the Church’s most popular and effective saints, “Paul’s faith is being struck by the love of Jesus Christ, a love that overwhelms him to his depths and transforms him. His faith is the impact of God’s love in his heart.” - Just take that in for a second - God’s love struck him. The amazing and powerful love of God wounded Paul so much and transformed his whole life that he became one of the greatest saints of the Church. And just to get the facts straight, before Paul’s conversion, he was one of the biggest sinners. He persecuted and mocked Christians! Despite his sin and weakness Jesus saw something more in Paul and called him to Himself. This wasn’t just another job for Paul. His encounter with the risen Lord changed him. The Pope went on to say, “But what deeply motivated him was being loved by Jesus Christ and the desire to communicate this love to others.” He left everything behind and went in the name of Jesus Christ to convert the nations.
Whether we are talking about Paul, my friends who are becoming religious brothers or sisters, my fellow seminarians, or many of the men and women I know who are pursuing Christian marriage, there is one thing that should be at the basis of all vocational calls. LOVE. The beautiful part about all this, is that Christ does not even ask us to love Him first. He is the first one to make the move, to reach out to us, and to say, “I LOVE YOU!” Our Lord, in every moment, wants to flood your life with His love. He wants to be there when you get up, have breakfast with your family, go to school, go to practice, eat dinner, do homework, talk on the phone, check facebook, and go to bed. He wants to overwhelm you with His love, just like He did Paul. But Paul was ready to receive that love, and when he did, his live changed. Are you ready to receive the Lord’s love? Are you ready to be captivated, overwhelmed, and struck by the love your heart has been longing for? One that makes you whole, complete, and happy beyond your wildest dreams?
We are only ready to say yes to God in what he calls us to do, if we let ourselves be loved by the Lord. And when we experience that love we will have all we need to leave everything and follow the Lord wherever he may leave.
LOVE is the answer my friends. Let Him love you…
To Scott, Kris, and Dan…I love you and will meet you in the consecration everyday. In our meeting there, we will experience once again, the Love that our hearts long for.
God Bless You,