Saturday, January 06, 2007

The courage to follow your Star (Epiphany homily)

Today we recall a star
that led a group of seekers to Christ.

Notice: the star didn’t drop out of the sky.
First they had to look for it.
Then they had to follow it.

There are a lot of stars up there.
Which one is for you?

My star is called “priesthood.”
A lot of men see it—but they hold back,
because they think the journey will be too difficult.

Some say there aren’t enough men
called to the priesthood.
I disagree. God is calling more than enough men—
more than we have, now.

But, if we never go outside at night, and look up—
how will we ever see the Star?

It’s more than a question of hearing God’s call;
It’s a question of having the courage to answer.

Men, if you want an easy life, don’t be a priest!
Don’t be husband or father; in fact, don’t be anything.

It’s takes guts to be a priest.
To lay down your life for others?
Yes, that takes courage.
Is it worth it?

Our men and women in uniform;
Fathers and mothers who sacrifice for their families:
you want to tell them it wasn’t worth it?

Love is the key.

The quality of love . . .
Whether a parent for a child,
a friend for a friend, a sister for a brother,
a married couple for each other,
or a patriot for his homeland…

. . . is that you realize,
“This—for this I will lay down my life!
And I will be glad to do so!
This is what I want my life to be for!”

In the movie “Braveheart,”
the hero, William Wallace, before a battle, said this:

“I see before me an army of my countrymen
here in defiance of tyranny.
“You have come to fight as free men,
and free men you are.
What would you do without freedom?
Will you fight?”

A soldier calls back,
“Fight against that? No, we will run, and we will live.”

“Aye, fight…and you may die! Run—and you’ll live.
At least a while.
And dying in your beds many years from now,
would you be willing to trade all the days
from this day to that for one chance,
just one chance to come back here and tell our enemies
that they may take our lives,
but they'll never take our freedom!?”

Yes, it takes courage to be a priest of Jesus Christ,
to be a religious sister,
like Sister Joan Clare, and Sister Mary Alice.

And many voices will say, “Don’t take a chance!
It’s too dangerous, too costly! Wait for another day!”

And you may wait. And wait. Until it’s too late.

It takes courage from all of us—
every one of us has a role in giving the invitation;
and in supporting those who answer the call.

This will shock you, but it is true:
Many times a boy or young man
will express interest in being a priest…
a young woman, in being a sister;
and friends, family, even his parents,
will, in various ways, discourage that call.

Parents, you too need courage to believe
that when your child hears the call,
whatever lies in that path,
know that it is the path
that will make him or her most happy.

I am very happy as your pastor.
Father Ang could have quit years ago;
Father Tom could quit anytime he wants.
But they don’t! You think they’ve found their purpose?

And everything I’m saying applies,
no matter what your call in life will be.

People ask me about my call.
A priest asked me to think about it—and I said I would.

I prayed about it;
and the desire started to grow, day by day.
As it grew in me, I had to do something—
I had to ask questions, I had to find out!
I stayed with a priest for several days, so I could see.
I checked out the seminary; I stayed;
I came here as an intern; I came back as your pastor!

I don’t feel very courageous!
But the soldier on the battlefield,
the father staying up all night,
the sister who teaches children, or cares for the sick…
they don’t feel courageous either.

You just do it. That’s what it feels like.
That’s how it happens.

You follow the star—wherever it leads.
The trials and sacrifices are the joy!
It’s a package deal.

The first step is the hardest.
After that you discover,
“this is my star—this journey was made for me.”

And we also discover that Jesus not only waits for us
at the end—he is with us every step along the way.

There are a lot of stars up there.
Which one is for you?


Anonymous said...

If only every priest would speak like you do! what a great homily. I happen to never really hear homilies like this. Our priest usually just retells the reading and gives a history lesson. It never extends to how the gospel reaches us in this day and time. Thanks for sharing your homilies on line I always check in to "hear" a great homily.

PMcGrath said...

And here's another star to follow: Shawn at TLM has just posted an Epiphany Declaration in favor of Latin Mass derestriction. You all may want to jump in on this.

Anonymous said...

Our priest tied Epiphany, and the arrival of the Magi, with following Truth wherever it may lead us. It worked out nicely, because right after the homily he called us (the candidates and catechumens) up for a blessing before dismissal, as usual. Before praying the blessing, though, he reiterated the 'following Truth wherever it leads us' and mentioning that some of the RCIA'ers were making a very difficult decision in considering becoming Catholic: that some of us were risking the loss of friends and family members through the process. Very poignant.

Anonymous, you should go check out my church's web site ( - I think they post my priest's homilies as sound files. I know they tend to be way behind on posting the text (last I checked they still had his Christ the King homily up!), but he's an excellent pastor and homilist. He and Fr. Fox make a great inadvertent tag-team! :-)

Anonymous said...

Fr. Fox,
I ditto anonymous__ I would love to hear more encouragement from our priests. You and all priests are in my prayers.