Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Homily on Vocations

Today, in the Roman Catholic world, Good Shepherd readings were brought together with vocations awareness.

The homilist at my parish took the opportunity to discuss vocations of the ordained type, completely ignoring all other vocations.

What's a good Catholic woman to do? Well, apparently, my role is to get on my knees and pray that "our children and grandchildren" might hear a call to ordained ministry.

[My inner voice was screaming, "you mean 'our sons and grandsons'"! Now is not the time to use inclusive language!]

The homilist was very passionate about this topic--to the point of tears, in fact. You could tell that he really believed in his message, and that it was very important to him. I understand that. In fact, it was encouraging to hear such passion from a Catholic pulpit. However, he was speaking a message that was meaningful only to a small group of the hundreds who sat in that church.

So, as I left the church today, I was thinking about what I would write in a homily, given the topic of Good Shepherd and vocations. Here are some of the points I would talk about:
  1. Every Christian is called - that's what "vocation" means.
  2. Every Christian is called to follow Christ, to do our best to walk his path and trod in his footsteps. It's not easy, and very few of us feel that we succeed.
  3. So, if Christ is the good shepherd, leading his flock by the sound of his voice, then we too are called to lead others to Christ by what we say and do.
  4. That includes those who are called to full-time church ministry, whether they are ordained, religious, or laity.
  5. That also includes all other Christians, whether they work in business, education, social services, the government, the home, or are retired.
The point is this: an ordained minister might be passionate about his ordination and the responsibility that it brings, but not everyone is called to ordained ministry. In fact, many people are barred from ordained ministry.

So if you are going to stand in front of a congregation and talk about vocations, you might want to think about what message those who listen are going to hear. I heard, "pray - that's all the ministry you need to give."

And that is way off target.

1 comment:

all creatures, said...

that would be a wonderful homily to hear (yours) - and probably one that many people truly need to hear.

it would also go well with a homily about the active nature of the love to which we are called.

perhaps another day's homily in which we really explore the meanings of some of these words because it's clear from your example that the meaning of "vocation" in many minds is quickly shrinking.

(and give your inner voice a high five for me!)