“I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.” (John 10:11)
Last Thursday, I was blessed to speak to our MOMS ministry. After I finished talking, I opened up for questions and one of the ladies asked me, "Why priesthood?" I responded, "Why not priesthood?" I can think of no better life. I can conceive of no greater adventure. I am called to be a Good Shepherd like Jesus. Called to lay down my life for all of you every day.
As we have heard Pope Francis say, “a priest is to supposed to smell like his sheep.” This is what I endeavor to do every single day. This week I smelled like fast food when I was serving our children at a McDonald’s. I smell like a grandmother’s perfume on Sunday when our grandmothers come out of Mass and give me a big hug. I smell like, well not very good, when I finish playing kickball with our children during their midday recess. I smell like incense when I expose the Blessed Sacrament to the faithful like I did last Friday. There is not one smell that is particular to the sheep, for we as shepherds are called to go into different pastures and meet the sheep where they are.
So “why not priesthood?” Because of all the reasons that I enumerated above. This is the life that I challenge other men to lead. In two weeks, 6 men will embark on this journey when they are ordained priests of Jesus Christ here in the Archdiocese. Where did they come from? Quite simply, they came from families just like yours. One of them came from a family in this parish which is why we should feel exceptionally blessed as a parish community that one of our sons is being ordained. Why did they choose priesthood? Because they too want to smell like sheep. They want to bring the Good News into a bad news world. They want to lay down their lives for the people of God just like Christ the Good Shepherd. At their ordination, they will literally lay down on the cathedral sanctuary floor as a gesture of humility, of total self-giving, of surrender, of laying down their lives for the sake of the sheep. They are good young men who will serve the Church well, but where will the next group of courageous young men come from who dare to say yes to the priesthood? They must come from your families. Talk to your children about vocations. Pray with your children for your priests and religious. Instill in them a love for those who are consecrated to God. This is how we will continue to grow the seeds of vocations in this parish, for among us is a young man who God-willing one day will say to himself, why not priesthood?