What do you find most striking in the story of Jesus? Forgiveness? Love? Wisdom? Miraculous powers? But do you pay attention to how we apply these qualities to Our Blessed Lord? We say Jesus forgives. Jesus loves. He is wise. He performs miracles. We don’t attribute these qualities to the past but we apply them to the present time. Why do we do such a crazy thing? Because what actually strikes us most in the story of Jesus is his Resurrection. When Paul was travelling around the Mediterian Sea with the Word of God he kept saying: “Anastasis, Anastasis!” “Resurrection, Resurrection!”
Some months ago I was doing my groceries and as I got to the cashier, by the way I was wearing a clerical collar, the girl who was scanning the items, looked up at me and asked: “Why did you become a priest?” My first thought was: “For God’s sake I am shoning now. Do you need to ask me these deep questions?” Of course I didn’t say that. What I said was: “God wanted me to become a priest.” I just wanted to keep it short. The girl retorted: “Good answer.”
Dear Friends of Jesus!
As I was driving home with the bags of groceries I couldn’t help thinking that that girl gave me a good Spiritual Direction session. I can’t take you to that supermarket right now to repeat the experience but on this Good Shepherd Sunday when the Church contemplates the face of the Savior, the Good Shepherd, the Church also turns her attention to those who follow the religious or priestly vocation and we pray for new vocations as well. This Fourth Sunday of Easter is an opportunity to ask what we find sticking in our nuns, brothers and bishops. I guess there would be many answers but I wonder if we could bring all these different expressions to one – RESURRECTION? Most of us gathered at this Eucharist, here in Manila, follow religious or priestly vocation but, do we really, really believe that our best gift to the Church Community and to the World is that we have encountered the Risen Christ.
There is this movie, a teenage boy comes home with a black eye and upon his arrival the mother says: “You’ve met Tome again.” This black eye if we translated it to the Christian language is the vocation story as the vocation story is the result, the outcome of the encounter with the Risen Jesus.
You know, I am very grateful that 2000 years ago they didn’t have any devices to record sounds. Why do I say that? Remember the beginning of the Gospel for this Mass: “The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice.” He doesn’t say “They listen to my message.” But he says: “They listen to my voice.” How can you hear the voice of a person? When you converse with the person or when you play a CD, MP3 on your phone of tablet with recording of the voice of the person. Do we have any recording of Jesus’ voice? I am not aware of any. So the only chance to hear his voice is when He converses with us. He the Risen Lord converses with us indeed because he isn’t in the past, he is with us today.
In 2002 the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life issued a letter titled Starting afresh from Christ. In the letter we read: “Starting afresh from Christ means once again finding one's first love, the inspiring spark which first gave rise to the following." To describe the following let me use what Blessed John Paul II wrote in the Adhortation Vita Consecrata “It is a life taken up by Christ, touched by the hand of Christ, a life where his voice is heard, a life sustained by his grace.”
As I said at the beginning of this homily, our best gift to the Church Community and to the World is that we have encountered the Risen Christ doesn’t mean that we are better, that Christ came to us not others but it is a reminder that Christ is present in this World, not in the past and those in the World of this present age can encounter him too.