Bottom line: I know these are busy days, but I ask you, I beseech you to carve out some time of stillness and silence.
You will notice the blessing from Pope Francis for my 50th anniversary of ordination. In front of it you will see a chalice I had restored for use in the rectory chapel. It is a Knights of Columbus chalice in honor of Fr Jon Frankovic - a former pastor of St. Mary of the Valley who died in July of 1992 at the age of 39. Fr. Frankovic was a few years ahead of me. I remember him guiding me through my first baptism. He was famous for his Harley Davidson motorcyle. He survived some long trips, but he died too young of cancer. Sister Barbara took care of Fr. Frankovic the last months of his life.
This does tie in with theme of our homily series: Discovering Life's Purpose. We've talked about God making us hybrid creatures - embodied spirits. We are material like other creatures that have emerged from the earth, but we have an inner core - a soul - that can turn toward God or away from him. Now, we have a natural tendency to run from God, to hide from him like Adam did after he and Eve committed the original sin.
We would be lost, but for one thing: God pursues us. He entered our messy human history by forming a people of his own - the Jewish people. From them God selected a young maiden - Mary of Nazareth. From her God took human flesh as we will hear next Friday evening and Saturday morning when we celebrate Christmas: The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
Today we hear in the Letter to the Hebrews that when Christ came into the world, he said, "Behold I come to do your will." Jesus did not come to do his own thing, but to do the will of his Father who sent him.
Now, if the meaning of Jesus' life is to do the Father's will, something similar applies to us. In fact, when Jesus taught us how to pray, he gave us these words: "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done."
But how do we find out the Father's will? Last week we saw how God speaks to through the conscience - what Newman called the "aboriginal vicar of Christ." But to hear God's voice we need stillness and silence. I can illustrate that by telling how I discovered my own vocation. It was the summer between my junior and senior year at Stanwood High. I had a job tending a small estate on Camano Island. Using a hand held clipper I was trimming the edge of a flower bed. It was a beautiful clear day. Something came over me that I not only could but should become a priest. I didn't tell anyone, but counted forty days on a calendar. I remember waking up amazed the thought was still with me. After 40 days I told my best friend, then my parish priest and my family. Since that day I have never doubted this is God's purpose for me. I've had good days and bad days, lazy days and crazy days, but through it all I've always had that confidence. It was the Holy Spirit who spoke to me in stillness and silence.
To our young people I say that you may have a different purpose, most common, to marry and build a family, but there is also consecration as a single person serving others or it might be priesthood or religious life. No matter what God's will for you, you will need stillness and silence to discover it. I know it's harder today. When I was a teenager we had our transistor radios, but now we have much more powerful devices. Noise and distractions surround us from morning to night. Pope Benedict observed: "We are no longer able to hear God - There are too many different frequencies filling our ears."
We do have Elizabeth and Mary's examples of contemplation. On Christmas Eve, we hear that Mary "kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart." Elizabeth, who was childless, experienced more silence that those who live in a home full of children. But it was a painful silence because she longed for a child. God heard her prayer and gave her more than she bargained for - the fiery John the Baptist.
At any rate Elizabeth spoke the most quoted verse in the Bible. Not John 3:16 - "God so love the world" but "Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb..." Many of us Catholics say that verse 53 times a day together with the angel's greeting, "Hail, full of grace the Lord is with you." The rosary, by the way, is one of the best ways to attain stillness and silence. As an introduction, I recommend Bishop Bob Barron's video available on YouTube.
On Christmas we celebrate the fruit of Mary's womb - Jesus born in Bethlehem. In him we discover life's purpose. I know these are busy days, but I ask you, I beseech you to carve out some time of stillness and silence. Join Jesus in saying, "Behold I come to do your will." Amen.
From Archives (Fourth Sunday of Advent - Year C):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish.
Other Priests' Homilies, Well Worth Listening:
Fr. Frank Schuster
Fr. Brad Hagelin
Fr. Jim Northrop
Fr. Michael White
Fr Kurt Nagel (and deacons of St. Monica)
Bishop Robert Barron
Bulletin (St. Mary of Valley Parish)
Parish Picture Album
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru