My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
What a joy to start this new school year!
Let us all — administration, faculty and staff, and especially you my brother seminarians —entrust ourselves to the Blessed Virgin Mary Most Holy.
Mary is the Seat of Wisdom, as we heard in our first reading tonight. So we need to go to her for help in making decisions. We need to reflect on her example of humility and love. We need to strive every day to be obedient to God’s will, just as Mary was.
Mary is our Mother! — Just as she was the Mother of Jesus. St. Paul told us that in our second reading. So my brothers — we need to be good sons. Stay close to Mary. Learn from her example.
My brother Priests and Seminarians, God is calling you to be priests of the new evangelization! And all of us are called to be the missionaries of the new evangelization!
Last night at the Cathedral, I had the blessing to host the premiere of a new documentary by Father Robert Barron. I’m sure many of you know Father Barron’s 10- part television series on “Catholicism” and his Word on Fire ministry on the Internet.
His new project is about the Church’s mission of evangelization.
We are living in a wonderful time of rediscovery in our Church. In this generation, we are beginning to really understand that the Church is not an institution or a set of programs. The Church is a mission. And that mission is the mission of Jesus Christ.
Jesus said he came to cast fire upon the earth!2 He wanted to fill the whole world with the fire of the love of God.
This is our mission in the Church — to spread the fire of God’s love to everyone.
We have a missionary vocation. This is the path that Jesus wants us to follow in our lives. It is the path that leads us to reach out to others. We are all called to be missionaries. But especially you, my brother Priests and Seminarians.
The Latin American bishops a few years ago, in a great document on evangelization, the Aparecida document, said that priests should be “missionary disciples of Jesus the Good Shepherd.”
That’s a good way for you to think about the priesthood you are preparing for my dear Seminarians.
You need to have the heart of Jesus. Which is a missionary heart. You need to have a heart that desires only the will of God. A heart that desires to share God’s love with everyone.
So I pray that this Year of Faith will be a time of deepening your union with the Jesus. Jesus has called you because you are important to him. He loves you and needs you for his mission.
Remember brothers: you are never just one seminarian among many. God knows your name. He has known your name from all eternity. He has called you, personally, for some reason. He is waiting always for your answer — for your response to the call of his voice, “Follow me!”
So you need to live close to Jesus, my brothers. Try to be more like him every day — through your contact with him in your prayer and in the Scriptures and in the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Confession.
Make the Mass the center of your day and the center of your lives. In the Mass, we see the shape that our own lives should take — the pattern of a life offered to God for the life of the world.
In the Gospel passage we heard today, we heard Jesus talking about his Blessed Mother. And he said: Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and observe it.
All of us need to listen to God’s Word more intensely. To read the Gospels every day with prayer. God is speaking to each of us personally in the Scriptures. He has a message for you and for me.
We all need to ask for the grace to hear God’s Word and to do it.
So let us try to answer our Lord’s call and proclaim the Gospel with our lives.
And let’s remember that his call is a missionary calling. He is sending us out into his creation, to show the world what it means to be a Christian.
Our Holy Father Pope Francis says, “Evangelization is done on one’s knees.” He is reminding us that our relationship with Jesus is vital. Without prayer, without that close union with Jesus, our ministries become just a job.
This is true for seminarians — but it is true for all of us. So we need to keep our eyes on Jesus. We need to notice how, in the Gospels, we see Jesus in deep prayer before making decisions, before every big moment in his ministry. This is a lesson for us.
Pope Francis says, “The mission is grace. And if the apostle is born of prayer, he finds in prayer the light and strength of his action. ... And the more the mission calls you to go out to the margins of existence, let your heart be the more closely united to Christ’s heart, full of mercy and love.”
Let us unite our hearts to the heart of Jesus and the heart of his Mother. Let us ask Mary, Seat of Wisdom to be our Mother and to help us to grow in the grace and strength we need to be missionaries and apostles of the new evangelization!
1. Readings: Sir. 24:1-4, 8-12, 18-21; Luke 1:46-55; Gal. 4:4-7; Luke 11:27-28.
2. Luke 12:49.