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Official Website of the
Catholic Diocese of Little Rock
Published: May 9, 2014
Bishop Anthony B. Taylor delivered the following address during the Seminarian Signing Day ceremony for Isidro Negrete and Daniel Wendel at Catholic High School in Little Rock on Friday, May 9, 2014.
A couple of weeks ago Pope Francis spoke by video to the youth of Argentina. His message was: "Have the courage to follow Jesus." It is in response to Jesus' call that Isidro and Daniel stand before you today. In his message, Pope Francis points to Jesus' encounters with the apostles, the rich young man and the Prodigal Son.
1.) The apostles knew Jesus but behaved badly on Good Friday. Peter denied him, Judas betrayed him and the others fled. What do they teach us? That it takes courage to follow Jesus! And the step that Daniel and Isidro are taking today is courageous, counter-cultural. Only a few brave men take it.
2.) Jesus invited the rich young man to give everything to the poor and join him preaching the Gospel, but he went away sad because he trusted more in his possessions than he did in Jesus. Letting loose of our security blanket requires courage and this young man trusted in his money more than he did in Jesus. That form of idolatry pervades our entire society. He went away sad. Do you have something that you're not willing to let loose of in order to do God's will in your life? Something that you want, but which is not God's will for you?
How about you? What does God want you to do with your life? If Jesus is calling you to the priesthood, do you have the courage to say YES?
3.) The Prodigal Son pursued pleasure — another false god that promises happiness that it cannot deliver. He tried to fill his inner loneliness with wild parties and the superficial gratification of all his urges, but this just left him feeling emptier than before. And so with much remorse he returned to his Father. His Father embraced him with mercy and then celebrated his return with a party of a very different sort — a party in which the joy was real, not superficial. What does this teach us? That it takes courage to face up to our sins and reset the direction of our lives. Cowards remain in the gutter.
Pope Francis then asks: "Who are you?" Do you have the courage to really follow Christ? The apostles knew Jesus but were afraid to put their lives on the line. The rich young man was unhappy because he was following a false god. Happiness comes only from living for something bigger than ourselves, and truly following Jesus — not just with words, but really investing our lives, all our hopes and dreams in him — gives meaning and purpose to our lives like nothing else can.
Isidro and Daniel have discovered this. So also have Catholic High graduates Brian Cundall, Steven Kelly, Joseph and Patrick Friend, Jon Miskin, Keith Higginbotham, Stephen Elser, Joseph D'Orbegozo and others before them. How about you? What does God want you to do with your life? If Jesus is calling you to the priesthood, do you have the courage to say YES?
To learn more about the Seminarian Signing Day at Catholic High School, visit Arkansas Catholic.