Homily Notes: the high calling of the royal priesthood

Luke 5:1-11
The calling of the Apostles: be fishers of men!

[a note on the purpose of the homily; it convicts, but does not accuse.  We don’t give the “Devil’s Homily”.]

Why? Why is the Gospel so important? [explain]

Profound claim: “it is no longer I who live but Christ (GOD!!!!) who lives in me!” (Galatians 2:20)

Being a Christian is more than a change of clothes, or even a change of heart… it is a new person. A person dedicated completely to holiness, the worship of God, and ministry to neighbor.

I am the Vocations Director of the UOC-USA. Almost always, when you talk about vocations, people think about priests. That is wrongheaded. All of use are called to be fishers of men. All of us are called to be evangelists. All of us are called to be part of the royal priesthood (royal priesthood; Exodus 19:6; 1 Peter 2:9).

I talked last week about what happens when you put a soldier’s uniform on someone without first changing their identity (its not about skills; its about a change of self). You know what happens when we put a cassock and vestments on someone who has not completely given themselves over to holiness… is it any different for the other members of the royal priesthood?

Again, it’s not about skills. A priest can give good homilies, bake nice bread, serve the liturgy with a strong voice, and know the services inside out… but if he does not surrender His life to Christ, if he has not humbled himself and taken up the cross, if he has not completely given himself over to the love of God and neighbor… then he is a dangerous charlatan. You know the results; not in this parish (thank God), but you have seen the damage uncommitted and compromised priests do to their parishes, the faith of their parishioners, and on their communities. It is disastrous, and part of my job as our vocations director is to make sure we avoid such things; and it is my duty as your priest to rededicate myself to the Gospel and empty myself so that Christ may live in and serve through me so that it does not happen here. I take this very seriously because the stakes are high.

But I ask again, Is it any different for the rest of the royal priesthood? What happens when we have members that have not given themselves to holiness? Who have not submitted themselves to the Gospel? What happens when we have lay leaders that have not put to death their old man so that Christ can live them? In most parishes, lay leaders – like priests – are selected based on their skills and their willingness to serve. But is this enough? Is it enough for a president to have leadership experience or a treasurer to know the books, or the choir director to know how to sing, or the chanter know how to chant, or the subdeacon to know how to serve? Lay people can offer all kinds of wonderful skills and service to the parish… but as with the priest, if they have not completely given themselves over to the love of God and neighbor… then they, too, are dangerous charlatans and they, too, do damage to their parishes, the faith of their fellow parishioners, and to their communities. You have seen this, not in this parish – we are truly blessed with lay leaders that are both skilled and committed – but I have no doubt that you can think of examples of parishes that have been harmed by skillful mercenaries.

It may seem that I am preaching to the choir. Perhaps I am.

My point is that we do right to hold our priests up to a high standard – we should expect them to be more than just competent. We should expect them to be living the life in Christ.

But we should also expect the same of ourselves. It is a high calling and there is work to be done. God has called us to be his apostles to our families, are friends, and the entirety of the Lehigh Valley.

Let us rededicate ourselves to this mission!