Yesterday, we celebrated the Mass of Installation of Fr. John Kiley as the new pastor of Holy Family parish. It was a beautiful liturgy! The bishop began by telling us some aspects of Fr. John’s background. One of the things he mentioned was that Fr. John was ordained to the priesthood in 1970. That’s two years before I was born. I’m impressed when I think of those forty-one years of service to the community! I hope that I too will be able to serve the Church for many years.
However, the Gospel today tells us that our enthusiasm to work for God is of more importance than the time He grants us to do it in. Some people grow up in a family that is very enthusiastic about the faith, and they participate in the Church throughout their whole lives. Other people only truly discover the faith later in life, whether through a conversion to Catholicism, or through a significant growth in their faith, discovering for the first time the treasure that they have had in their hands all along. In any case, the important thing is that we come to know God and serve Him with generosity. God will be equally generous in His reward.
We can also apply this parable in a different way. Some people are called to serve God by working full-time for the Church, as priests, religious, consecrated souls, or lay employees and volunteers. Other people are called to work principally in the secular world, dedicating less time to helping the Church directly. But people in this situation are also serving God, when they live their faith with conviction and fidelity in the midst of their work environment.
Sometimes we might want to ask God why we didn’t come to appreciate our faith earlier in our lives, or why God called us to one vocation in life and not to another. That is part of His plan, and often we are not granted to know His reasons in this life, as is explained in the first reading today. If each one of us does the best we can in the place which God has chosen for us, we will all receive the same reward of eternal life. Our happiness in heaven does not depend on what our vocation is, but on the fidelity with which we live that vocation.
This ties in with the message that St. Paul gives us in the second reading. He was motivated by the desire to be with Christ in heaven, but he also wanted to stay on this earth, as long as he was serving God through service to his brothers and sisters. His labors were worthwhile as long as it contributed to more people living in a way worthy of the Gospel of Christ.
May God help each of us to know how He wants us to serve Him in the Church, and may He grant us the grace that we need to love Him with enthusiasm and generosity every day, at work or in church, resting or praying, in our dealings with our families or with strangers. Thus may we all arrive, at the end of our lives on earth, to share the reward of the joy of heaven. And may I say how happy I am for Fr. Kiley and for this Parish, for his installation as Pastor. I wish him many more years of service to our Lord, and I consider myself blest to be able to be parochial vicar here. I hope to learn from him and from you how to be a faithful and joyful servant of the Lord.