15th Sunday, Ordinary
Fr. Mike is away this week; he’s on vacation until next week. So, if you hear any loud noise coming from the rectory late at night, it’s probably seminarian Dan and his friends. You know how those seminarians can be… crazy!? Of course, I would never do that! But, back in the day, probably.
It’s funny, when I tell my stories from high school and college to young people, they often say, “wow, you used to have a normal life”. I tell them, ‘I wasn’t always a priest”. It’s like the prophet Amos in the first reading who said, “I wasn’t always a prophet”. Actually, the first twenty years of my life were kind of the opposite of priesthood. Priests live for others; I was living for myself. I wasn’t always a priest.
Without going into detail, let’s just say that I was a great sinner. I didn’t know Christ. I was ignorant. I didn’t know the Gospel. St Jerome said that ‘ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ’. I didn’t know that the Eucharist is really Jesus’ flesh and blood. I didn’t know the dangers of mortal sin, how I need to be in a state of grace when I die if I want to get to Heaven, and that Confession restores me to that state if I've left it. I didn’t know much about the sacraments at all. Many people helped me to know Christ and the Church, but it was mainly priests who helped me to know Him.
This led me to pray …really for the first time in my life at age 21. I began to say, “Lord, show me your Will…I will do it”. It led me to enter the seminary at 23. Now, the seminary was a good time, and I enjoyed my years there. But, it was also a great struggle for me. The whole celibacy thing was huge! It was all so new, after the life I had led. For about 10 years, I ran from it, leaving the seminary twice. It wasn’t until two years ago that I finally realized that celibacy is a gift that God is offering me, and I embraced it. Now, the joy of living this gift as a priest is indescribable!
I said the first weekend I was here that I am PSYCHED to be here. If you start to understand the struggles that I’ve had…that for so many years I was begging God to show me His Will. If God doesn’t make His Will very clear to us, trying to discern It can be the hardest thing in life! I prayed, “Lord, show me my bride. Whether it’s a woman and family in marriage or a parish family as a priest, just show me the one to whom I’m supposed to give my life”. So, the day that Cardinal McCarrick told me that I was coming to St Andrew’s is the day that God showed me my bride! To be here with you and to see your faces brings a happiness that I can’t describe!!
Christ has sent me here to you just like he sent the Apostles. He has sent me here like he sent so many priests to me…to help you to know Him. He has sent me here to preach the Gospel of repentance…change your lives! He has given me the power to cast out demons, to cure the sick, to consecrate the Eucharist, to forgive sins, etc. He worked great miracles through the first priests, the Apostles. Hopefully, he will do great things through me in your lives.
Above anything else, Christ has sent me here to show you the love of the Father. Christ is the visible sign of God’s love for us. So, his priests now present the love of God the Father; that is why a priest is called ‘Father’. Please pray for me, Fr. Mike, and all priests…that we may show you God’s love. God sent me here to say to you time and again, “I love you”. He has such great love for each of you! May you know his love this day, and every day of your lives.