My dad’s first cousin is a priest for the Diocese of Des Moines. My dad’s step-brother was a Jesuit priest and professor at Creighton University. My great-aunt was a Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM) sister and taught in Chicagoland area. My mom’s first cousin is a Franciscan priest in the Holy Land and was the former pastor at the Church of Nativity and the Church of Annunciation in Nazareth. If you ask my mom, she could list even more distant cousins with religious vocations. Needless to say, religious vocations have been present in my family. However, it might surprise you to know that while growing up, the idea of priesthood never entered my mind!
Now that I am older and I can reflect back, I can see signs of the invitation, but at the time I was completely absent-minded to the Lord’s call. You could say I grew up in the Lord’s house, the Church; by going to Mass on weekends and Holy Day of Obligations, but I was unaware of the Lord’s plan for me.
Whenever I hear the story of the Prodigal Son, I see a similar a struggle; both sons fail to see the invitation of the father. The first son wanted to find his identity away from his father, while the oldest son thought he only need to live under his father’s roof. But the father was offering something more than just shelter, food, and work to both of them. He was offering his very self, his very heart.
I believe we as Catholics continue to miss out on the invitation given to us by Our Father in heaven through his Son. We are personally aware that many have left the faith like the younger son, but how many of us in the pews, or should I say those in the presider’s chair, fail to realize the invitation to the Father’s heart through the gift of his Son?
Some may think that it would be the job of the pastor/priest and our ministries is to get people into the Church. But that would miss the point of the Gospel and the lesson that needs to be learned by the older son in the parable. The goal of the priest and our ministries at OLM is to make people aware of the beautiful invitation before them. The invitation to God’s heart! I’m truly grateful for all the ministries at our parish that invites each and everyone of us to enter more deeply into the Father’s heart.