Thursday, April 12, 2007

Called By Name

“Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni,’ which means Teacher” (John 20:16).

Just about every weekend I have the honor of traveling to a different parish in the diocese to preach about the vocation to the priesthood. It is a great joy for me to be able to do this, because I love inviting Catholics to reflect upon the blessing of the priesthood in their lives. Truthfully, preaching about the priesthood every weekend also helps me to have a deeper appreciation for this amazing vocation to which I have been called; it helps me to enter more deeply into the gift and mystery.

One way that I attempt to concretely promote vocations in these parish communities is by inviting people to take action. Near each door of the church I place a pile of blue index cards with the words “CALLED BY NAME” on the top of each card. During my homily I invite the people to think of a man that they believe would make a good priest, and then I ask them to take a card home, pray about it, and then send his name and address to me. When I receive one of those Called By Name cards in the mail I then send a letter to that man inviting him to consider the vocation to the priesthood. Some of you reading this may have received one of these letters from me in the past. The goal of the Called by Name card is twofold: first, to get the people to understand that they are responsible for promoting priestly vocations; second, to plant a seed in the heart of the man who receives the letter from me.

Called by name… Isn’t this what happened to Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb? Mary went in search of Christ; she longed to be with him. And when she arrived at the empty tomb, she wept because she thought his body had been taken. Jesus then appeared to her, but she did not recognize him…until he called her by name. Only When Jesus called her name, “Mary,” did she experience the power of the Resurrection. Christ revealed himself to her and then sent her on a mission to tell the apostles that he had risen from the dead.

With this “Called by Name” gospel scene in mind, here are a couple of questions to help you discern God’s will for your life: Are you, like Mary, seeking to be with Christ? Are you choosing to set aside quiet time for prayer every day so that you, like Mary, can hear Jesus call you by name? Have you experienced the power of the Resurrection? You see, what happens when set time aside to seek Christ and to listen to his voice is that we hear him call us by name; we come to know his love for us. And when we look into the face of Christ and see his eyes filled with love, we are drawn to know and love him more. As we grow to know and love him, we see why he created us; we see our vocation. Jesus called Mary by name, but he also calls you and me by name. We just need to have the courage to be still, open the ears of our hearts, and listen to him.

During this Easter season, Jesus wants us to experience the power of his Resurrection. Jesus wants us to know his love; he wants us to know his plan for us. But this will only happen if we take time to be still; it will only happen if we seek his face and listen to his voice. Will you seek him? Will you listen to his voice? Will you listen to him call you by name? Do not be afraid to seek him; do not be afraid to listen to him. Do not be afraid...


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