The following homily was given by Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde at the Diocesan Vocations Mass, March 7, at Holy Spirit Church in Annandale.
Centuries ago, as He went around to all the towns and villages, what did Jesus see? He saw people in need: ""they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd." Moved with pity, Jesus stayed among them, teaching, preaching and healing, because He is the answer to every need of the human heart. Yes, Jesus stayed among the people. In doing so, He was saying to them, "I want to help you. I will need others to collaborate with me in helping you, so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest."
The needs of the human heart do not really change. So, centuries later, in 2006, people look like those other people in Jesus' time: "troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd." Jesus still sees them with pity and He still wants to remain among them because He is the answer to their deepest needs. This is exactly what St. Paul understood when he wrote to the Christians of Philippi, stating that he had found the prize, the treasure, namely, Jesus Christ. "I consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I continue my pursuit towards the goal, the prize of God's upward calling in Christ Jesus."
So, then, Jesus is the real answer to people's needs today as He was in Galilee and Judea centuries ago. He still sees people with pity in His heart and still needs collaborators to help Him help them.
Where are these collaborators? Right here this morning! I am convinced that a number of you are being called by Jesus to collaborate with Him in helping people by becoming a priest or a permanent deacon or a religious brother or sister.
God has a definite plan for each one of us. The key to being fulfilled in this life is to discover God's plan and then to embrace it fully. Each one of us will be truly fulfilled only when we accept and embrace God's plan for us. So, every day, please ask God to show you His plan for your life.
The model for you is the young Samuel described in today's first reading. He was open to the Lord's call; he was willing to follow. So, he prayed: "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening." Make Samuel's prayer your own every day! If you do, the Lord will show you what He intends you to be and to do in the future.
Yes, people all around us are in need and Jesus is the answer. Priests, permanent deacons and religious brothers and sisters are the Lord's closest collaborators in bringing Him to these people. This is especially true of the priest, since he makes Christ the Priest and Shepherd present and visible in the Church. Our diocese needs many more priests, permanent deacons and religious brothers and sisters. I believe that among us this morning are those young men and women whom the Lord is calling to these vocations of service within the Church.
Yes, something is happening in our society: young people are listening to the Lord's call and are saying "yes." You are among these young people, I am confident. So, open the ears of your heart and listen! When you hear His voice, say "speak, Lord, for your servant is listening!" Say "yes" and live life to the fullest with Jesus the Head and Shepherd of the Church. Say "yes" and really live!