A few weeks I talked to you about my own vocation story and what helped me decide to enter the seminary. For this week’s bulletin, I would like to take you a little bit deeper into my vocational journey and tell you why the sea of Galilee is a part of my discernment.
This weekend’s Gospel takes place on the sea of Galilee. I’m sure you have heard about it before. Jesus did many things on this sea and what you will hear at Mass this Sunday takes place in a small town on the sea of Galilee itself. Jesus is speaking about his body and blood in the city of Capernaum. For me, the scripture story that is a part of my discernment takes place about 2 miles or so away from this small town. In John 21 Peter and some of the disciples are fishing early in the morning and Jesus appears to them, they bring in a great catch of fish and cook some of it. There is a tourist trap not too far from here also, which claims they make the same type of fish Peter had that morning, you can ask me about that later! However, after they eat Jesus asks Peter three times, “do you love me?” Jesus then calls Peter to feed his sheep.
In my own prayer life, Jesus asked me the same questions as I prayed with this passage. He asked me the same question, “do you love me.” Not too long after that, my second year at Notre Dame Seminary, I knew with little doubt that God was calling me to the priesthood. Before that point I was asking “is God calling me to be a priest?” John 21, the story of Jesus asking Peter do you love me, helped me answer this question in my heart. After that, I began to ask, “how do I prepare myself to be a priest?” To this day that question is still on my heart, and God willing within a year I will begin to ask, “how can I be a holy faithful priest today?”
This past January I was blessed to visit the places that have been a part of my vocational journey. We first stayed in Israel near the sea of Galilee, and we soon went to the Church of Peter’s Primacy, near Capernaum in a place called Tabgha. What is also near this place is the Church of the Multiplication, which as it names suggests is the traditional location where Jesus fed 5000 people. As I was praying with John 21 again, I had an insight. Jesus was not only calling Peter to feed his flock; he was calling him to feed his flock with the Eucharist his own body and blood. In this insight, I heard God reaffirm my call to the priesthood, but he was also calling me to feed his faithful with the Eucharist. God willing this will become a reality in 2019.
This weekend we will hear more about Jesus the bread of life and what that means for us as Catholics. We believe that we consume Jesus himself in the Eucharist. It is through the hands of priests and the power of the Holy Spirit that we receive Christ himself. I humbly ask you continue to pray for our priests and our seminarians who are studying for the priesthood. It is through their hands that God continues to transform the world through the sacraments. Let us pray for all God has called to tend and feed the flock of the Church, especially those in the priesthood or who are discerning the call to the priesthood.