Today’s Feast—the last one of the Christmas Season—
recalls when Jesus, now an adult, comes to be baptized.
This is the next chapter of the Christmas Story:
God becomes man; he is revealed to the nations;
and now, the God-man comes to stand with us.
This also begins Vocation Awareness Week.
We especially think about the call to be a deacon,
a priest, a religious sister or brother.
And you might wonder, what’s the connection?
When Jesus came to be baptized,
Now, as an adult, he again accepted the challenge
of what the Father sent him to do.
We all go through that.
Most of us were baptized as babies.
As we grow up, we begin to wrestle with our Faith.
Maybe we wander or rebel.
But then something happens to make it matter.
In high school or college, we start to ask tough questions.
We think about marriage, or our first child arrives,
And we start asking, “what do I really believe?”
Sometimes folks think being a priest, a brother or sister,
is somehow harder than being a husband or a wife.
Based on what I saw in my parents; and what many of you share with me,
I don’t see that at all.
Instead, the two vocations mirror each other.
A priest can’t be much of a priest
unless he—like our Lord—offers himself to the Father,
But it’s exactly the same for a wife or husband, a parent.
This dying to self blesses a marriage with peace.
Now, some can’t get past the celibacy thing.
Our society is messed up on this subject;
And, sadly, when a priest fails, it causes so much harm.
When a spouse goes on a business trip;
or is far away in the military, you remain faithful.
What do you say, wives and husbands?
“No thank you—I have someone I’m waiting for.”
When you meet a brother, or a priest, and you say,
“why don’t you get a spouse?”
We answer the same:
“No thank you—I have Someone I’m waiting for.”
When priests and religious embrace celibacy,
It reminds the world that Heaven is real,
it is where our true hope lies.
Perhaps you noticed some prayers in the pews
(or at the entrances as you came in).
This is a prayer Archbishop Schnurr composed,
and he asks that all parishes
begin praying it at all Masses.
We will pray this together, in a few minutes,
after our intercessions.
Please feel free to take one with you if you like.
A moment ago, I said that marriage, and priesthood,
are mirrors of each other.
We see this particularly at Mass.
Mass is when all that Christ did for us,
all that he is for us, is summed up;
it is summed up in the Cross:
everything for you; I give my life for you.
That is what a sister says in her vows;
It is what a priest becomes when he is ordained;
and it is what a couple declares on their wedding day.
Then…you live it, day-by-day!
We all live the Cross…or we’re sterile and empty.
Each of us is here because our parents
chose to surrender themselves to each other in love—
they risked the future, the unknown,
and cooperated with God in creating us.
No infant feeds herself, no child raises himself.
I watched my father go off to work each day;
I saw my mother make a home,
and she was determined to turn the seven of us kids
from barbarians into civilized people!
My father wore out his body; my mother gave up dreams; they spent themselves.
They did it for us.
This is what Christ did on the Cross.
And because men answer the call to the priesthood,
Christ comes to us in the Eucharist.
Everything for us.
Christ asks you: what will you choose?