Bishop Glen John Provost

Bishop of Lake Charles

The Most Holy Name of Mary

Clergy and Religious Anniversary Mass 2017

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

St. Henry Catholic Church

Lake Charles, Louisiana

“[H]e called his disciples to himself.”  Luke 6:13

In junior high I decided I wanted to be a doctor.  I remember the time very clearly.   I had a notion about what doctors did and knew this would require a great deal of study and preparation especially in the field of science.   By high school this notion had disappeared, along with a lot of others in between, and by senior high I began sensing another direction which seemed not to be originating from me.   This movement came from somewhere or someone else.   I do not want to say I felt besides myself but the notion of priesthood was compelling in a way that the notion of medicine or anything else was not.   One appeared to be a calling, the other had come from me.    One came from elsewhere.   The other was my own.   One was a call, the other a profession.

he Gospel for today’s Mass is most appropriate for a celebration of anniversaries of clergy and religious.    Our Lord calls “his disciples to himself,” and, once called, chooses from those disciples “[t]welve whom he also called apostles” (Luke 6:13).   Disciples and apostles, both called, all chosen, but each given different tasks.   No doubt they had different notions of what they were being called to do.  However, they accepted the call.   It is quite clear in the call of the first apostles, as we read in the Gospel of St. John (John 1:35ff.), that the call appears sudden, unexpected, almost random, but decidedly deliberate in the mind of Jesus Christ, and the mind of Jesus Christ is really what is important.   

Vocation is a call from Jesus Christ.   It is personal, compelling, and mysterious.   It is irresistible, profound, and loving.   It is an invitation.  Just as human friendship develops over years, so the relationship with Jesus matures and ripens as we delve ever more deeply into the nature of the call.   

We cannot forget that the call of the disciples came after a “night in prayer” (Luke 6:12).   The call is deliberate and quite intentional.   God has a plan.   However, as in building a house we are never quite sure how the plans of the architect will unfold as the structure materializes and modifications are made, so in vocation we cooperate and wait and see.   

Cooperate—that is an important word.   The disciples and apostles placed themselves in the hands of our Lord.   They entrusted themselves to Him.    We place ourselves in the hands of the Divine architect but then realize that we are not puppets whose strings are being pulled or clueless objects of manipulation.   Instead, we are cooperators with the Divine plan.   The final result is in the mind of God and we trustingly await the revelation of its fulfillment.  

Vocation is not for manipulators, egotists, self-willed individualists, and prima donnas.    Vocation is for servants, friends, self-giving lovers, and trusting intimates.   The power comes from Him and we are healed (cf. Luke 6:19).   The action is His.   We have allowed ourselves to be instruments in His hands.    We are no longer our own and yet we have discovered ourselves.   With this understanding the words of St. Paul make abundant sense:  “So, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in him, rooted in him and built upon him and established in the faith as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6-7).