Homily of Bishop Cullinan for Vocations Sunday 2024

A US priest visited Ireland a few weeks ago – Msgr. James Shea. At a talk in the US in January this year before a crowd of 24,000 young people he invited people to gaze with him into the long annals of human history. In every time and place including now where human beings have gone they brought with them great aspirations, great achievements, works of art and beauty and usefulness –  they build, they fashion, they enquire into the world and do marvellous things.  And everywhere we human beings we plunder and pillage and oppress and destroy. We bring with us an incurable illness called sin. And everywhere we go we die.

We try very hard to forget and avoid all this. We try to tell ourselves that we are masters of our own destiny. That we don’t need God. That we can produce our own happiness. We see this now is the various political manoeuvrings which oppose God’s natural law and in groupthink media where once again in human history we are trying to build a world without God – a brave new world where everything is permitted and nothing forgiven. Such is our human pride.

What is the result of all this? All around we see suffering and confusion and despair. In Irish society right now there is a near explosion in mental illness, anxiety, loneliness – especially among the young. This situation demands an explanation. Maybe their despair is the right response to a world where God is deliberately banished.

This is nothing new. It started in the Garden of Eden.

But God does not leave us orphans. God does not abandon us. Just like a mother or father does not abandon a wayward child. God has a plan for real human flourishing which is always tied to His love and desires for us.

God had sent this Son to rescue us from sin and death and despair.

God the Son has left us His Church with all its saints and sinners, with all its light and darkness.

Jesus Christ enters into this world. I say enters because He is still working in this wonderful sin-tinged world. It is not as if Jesus just lived for 33 years and then left us. And Jesus Christ is not afraid. He is not nervous. He has all under His loving control.

He is here. As Pope St Leo the Great wrote his presence has passed over into the sacraments. And He is in his Word in Sacred Scripture and in our hearts and all around us if we have but eyes to see.id loving controlHis

For the Sacraments we need priests and the priesthood has been part of the Church since the beginning, instituted by Christ Himself -one of the seven Sacraments. We are officially finishing the Year for Vocation to Diocesan Priesthood. Our motto for this Year was Take the Risk for Christ. The purpose of the Year was to pray for and promote vocations to ordinary parish priesthood – to have men young and not so young who will baptise and absolve sin, who will celebrate Eucharist, preach the Gospel and journey with their parishioners in good times and in bad, to lift up people’s gaze, to discover who and for what we are made, not to be mere consumers and economic units and the result of mere chance

But by God who in His great goodness wants us to find love and live in love and holiness even if there is a cross and be a disciple of that love in the world. Everyone has a vocation from God – be it marriage, or religious life, the single life, a deacon or a priest.

I am a very happy and thankful to be a priest of Jesus Christ, flawed though I am.

I pray we pray that through the fog and haze of the culture in which we live men will generously respond to God who is calling them to His priesthood. Maybe someone listening to me now.

Are you up for the challenge to join the revolution? To show humanity its true calling to love God and love our neighbour? To see life from conception to its natural end as a gift from God and to show that our destiny lies in the loving presence of God for ever in the company of all those whom the Lord puts into our lives. Our work for vocations goes on.

Will you take the risk for Christ?  To recreate our world, to lift it up. To be sowers of peace and joy and the truth of Jesus Christ.