Monday, November 13, 2023

"The 10 Virgins" Homily for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2023


Homily for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2023 “The 10 Virgins”


In the parable in our Gospel today, it may sound strange…we might ask why 10 virgins were waiting, in the middle of the night, for the groom to come back, by himself, for a wedding party, but every Jew listening to Jesus would understand the customs involved, and a quick internet search will point those things out to anyone interested.


But I want to focus on vocations, this weekend, as this is National Vocations Awareness Week in the United States, and some of the vocations involve vows related to virginity.


First of all, I never felt any pressure from my family to be a priest.  My parents just said once or twice over the years as we were growing up “if any of you became a priest or a sister, we would support you in that decision”  I would discourage any family from applying any sort of pressure to a young person.


I personally heard a very clear call my sophomore year of college when I made a commitment to read one chapter of the Gospel each day.  I just heard Jesus putting on my heart, every time I opened the Bible “be a priest”.  So that is the number one recommendation for discerning your vocation…read one chapter of the Gospel each day on your own.


I would just like to say a few things about the priesthood – I have never missed having children of my own… As a priest, no matter how young you are, you are welcomed into hospitals and nursing homes passed all the aunts and uncles and cousins right to the bed side because you have the Sacraments of the Church…and we invited to all of your wedding receptions, rehearsal dinners, graduation parties, first Communion parties…

We are also connected to the family of the priests of the past…every family typically buys their son a chalice when he is ordained a priest, and usually when that priest dies no one knows what to do with that chalice, so they are kept in the archives at the diocese.  I went down to the Archdiocese and picked out one such chalice that was originally a gift to Fr. Edgar O’Connor, who was ordained a priest on May 25, 1920.  The Archdiocese gave me some information on Fr. Edgar O’Connor and my parents had it refurbished, and so now both of our names are on the bottom of this chalice.  Every time I celebrate Mass with this chalice, I see both my name and Fr. Edgar O’Connor’s name on the bottom of the chalice.  I now pray for the repose of his soul every night, and then I ask him to pray for me.


It is a beautiful thing…and all the religious brothers and sisters I know feel the same way about their vocations even though we all take vows to be live as virgins.  There is a young woman who I first got to know when I was the Chaplain at Cardinal Ritter.  Just a few years ago she made final vows for the Sisters of Life based in New York City.  The Sisters of Life are highly engaged in the pro-life movement, they minister to women and fathers who chose to have abortions, and they also celebrate with women and fathers that have chosen life…they have birthday parties for babies and take care of the families…she does not have any biological children but she is a mother to hundreds of fathers, mothers, and children.


When I was first ordained a priest, lots of people told them “you must be really proud of John” and they responded with “we are really proud of all of our children…” I think that was so wise of them to say because all of my siblings are still practicing Catholics and most of them are married and having children…marriage is also a beautiful vocation!


In conclusion, whether you are discerning your “capital v” Vocation (marriage, priesthood, become a religious sister or brother, or the consecrated single life) or you have already chosen one, and are just wondering what God is calling you to do today, my advice is the same…read one chapter of the Gospels each day…and in those 4 minutes God will let you know what you should do in order to grow in holiness and happiness.

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