Saturday, December 23, 2017

Simbang Gabi 2: The Priest called from the People of God

DECEMBER 17, 2017

Jesus, I trust in you!

The 2nd day of the Simbang gabi will always be memorable because we always read today the long list of the Lord’s ancestors. Here we see a glimpse of the family of the Lord in a span of many centuries: 14 generations from Abraham to King David, 14 generations from David to the Babylonian exile, and 14 generations from the Babylonian exile to St. Joseph. At the end of this long list is Jesus Christ, the son of Mary.

Jesus came from this long family line.  It would be to this family that the promised Messiah will be born. Jesus came from this family. As in the case of Jesus, the priest will always be called from the people of God. Ministers are called by the Lord from his faithful. These ministers will be called to be at the service of the people of God. Thus, all the members of the People of God must do their part to foster priestly vocations. “The duty of fostering vocations falls on the whole Christian community, and they should discharge it principally by living full Christian lives. The greatest contribution is made by families which are animated by a spirit of faith, charity, and piety and which provide as it were, a first seminary, and by parishes in whose abundant life the young people themselves take an active part.” (Optatam Totius, 2.)

Priestly and religious vocations do not just happen. They are fostered. This means that the family and parish must provide an atmosphere that is conducive to the forming of priestly vocations. Indeed, a vocation is a calling from the Lord. But we must provide our young people with an atmosphere that can help them hear the voice of the Lord. Pope Pius X said that the family is the first seminary. Seminary means seed bed. It is in the family where the seeds of vocation are planted. Pope Pius himself experienced this. Pope Pius’ real name is Guiseppe Sarto. When he was studying for the priesthood, his mother worked as a cleaning lady to support his studies. Eventually, Guiseppe was ordained priest and later on, was ordained a bishop. After his ordination as bishop, he proudly showed his mother his episcopal ring. He said to her: “Mother, look at this ring, which is so beautiful.” His humble mother took off her wedding ring and said to him: “My son, without this ring, you cannot have your ring.” Pope Pius discovered his vocation thanks to his parents who were faithful in their wedding vows.

The family is the domestic Church. It is the first school of faith where children first learn by experience faith and love. In a prayerful family, children first learn to love God. When a family is generous to the poor, children learn the lesson of charity. Children observe and learn the lessons of sacrifice and self- giving when they see it in their parents. When children are educated with examples of faith, love and self-giving, they increase in their desire to serve God and his people. Here we have the beginnings of priestly and religious vocations.

Thus, we must truly live out our faith in our families. We must help our children listen to the voice of God. Why should we care? Why should families care about fostering priestly vocations? It is because a priest is a great blessing to the family. St. John Bosco said: God’s greatest blessing to a family is a son-priest! 

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!   

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