When I was little, there were many children living near our house, and we spent lots of time playing together outside. When it was time to eat, my dad would whistle for us to come home. My friends’ parents called their names, but my Dad whistled for us, which I liked a lot. It was a very distinctive whistle, and we knew right away who was calling and what he wanted. Of course, the other kids would just keep on playing. We all knew that my dad was calling us, not them. They responded to their own parents’ call.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus says that it’s the same with his followers. He is the Good Shepherd, and we are sheep. When he calls his sheep, “the sheep follow him because they recognize his voice.” The sheep that don’t respond to his call apparently belong to someone else. And who we belong to matters.
My dad didn’t just whistle for us; he and my mother provided for us and protected us and were there for us always, especially in times of adversity. Our home was a place of love where we felt safe and knew we belonged. Others might live in more expensive houses, but no one had a better home.
You, seminarians, have heard Jesus’ call in your life and today, seven of you are prepared to formalize your response — and I am prepared to accept that response in this Rite of Admission to Candidacy for Holy Orders. Jesus calls us in different ways — each one of you has heard his voice in a way that is unique and personal, but what you all have in common is that, in line with what you have just heard in our Gospel reading today, you have heard his voice and are following him; you belong to him!
And Jesus has not just called you; he will also protect you and provide for you and be there for you, especially in times of adversity. You belong! And as I think you have already discovered, no priest or seminarian has a better home than we do here in the Diocese of Little Rock.
Of course, you still have a ways to go in your formation. We have asked “the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest,” and you are the answer to our prayers. Trusting in the Lord, you have said the same thing that Jeremiah said when he heard God’s call: “Here I am, send me.” And once you have been duly formed in seminary and equipped to carry out God’s mission, I will one day soon have the joy of ordaining you to be another Christ, an Alter Christus, deputed with faculties to continue the saving work of Christ, which he accomplishes on earth, especially by preaching of the Word and the celebration of the sacraments.
So it will be very important for you to continue to give yourselves fully to the formation that Jesus is providing you, both in seminary and in all of the human and pastoral experiences you have outside the seminary walls. From this day on, you must cultivate ever more fully your vocation, using especially all of the spiritual means available to you. And for my part, I trust in the Lord, and I assure you of my love, my prayers and my support.
Bishop Anthony B. Taylor delivered this homily May 9 for the installation of candidacy of seminarians Duwan Booker, Cody Eveld, Joel Brackett, Quinton Thomas, Minh Phong Nguyen, Christopher Elser and Tuan Do.
Please read our Comments Policy before posting.Article comments powered by Disqus