In our Advent preparations we get ready to welcome Jesus. In the Christmas season we receive Him with joy, and in the mystery of Epiphany we see the King of Kings manifested to the nations. Jesus told his disciples, “Many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it.” What was it that those holy men longed to see? Why did the Magi travel so far to come to the humble crib of a poor family? Why do people to this very day risk their friendships, their careers, sometimes even their families’ approval to enter the Christian faith? Or, as Jesus said to Andrew on the sea shore, “What are you looking for?”
Finding your place, finding your vocation can feel like discovering your own life. Married people sometimes speak of meeting and falling in love with their spouse, saying things like, “She completes me; she makes me a better version of myself.” There is something about a healthy relationship, lived asking for God’s grace, that serves both members of it as a beautiful combination of both challenge and affirmation. Discovering a call to a religious community can be similar in some ways. When I was getting to know the Congregation of Holy Cross, I was intimidated by the feeling that so many CSCs are scholars or professors or administrators, I was worried that I wouldn’t measure up. I hadn’t met many of the pastors or missionaries or campus ministers in the community yet…and honestly even the professors aren’t so scary once you aren’t in their classes anymore!
One of the vocations directors could have asked me, at that time in college, “What are you looking for?” In retrospect it is so clear, but at the time it was a struggle to articulate for myself the answer. I was looking for the place I belonged. I was looking for the place Jesus wanted me to be. Whether you physically travel many miles or not, or simply spend hours in the chapel or with your rosary, everyone who is seeking their vocation is searching for the place where Jesus shows up and makes himself present.
I began to realize that I was called to Holy Cross because when I was around these men I was both being affirmed, in that I could see them becoming my friends, even becoming my brothers, and also because the presence of the community was an unstated challenge to become a better version of myself. You pray, but pray more. You study, but study harder. You love charity work and ministry, but you can give more. You are a pretty good friend, but you can be someone’s brother. As the Constitutions put it, I felt a summons to give over my life in a more explicit way.
Advent will end, but we of course won’t be done getting ready for Jesus until we meet Him face to face. Christmas will end, but we will never run out of praise for the gift of the humble Incarnation. Epiphany will end, the Magi will deliver their gifts, but I don’t think they ever stopped looking for their King. Even though they returned to their home countries, that encounter had redefined who they were, and what the mission of their lives would be thereafter. So should our encounter with Christ. Though we have been in touch with Him in so many ways—in prayer, in community, in the Sacraments—even though we have found our Savior, He invites us to keep giving Him the gift of our lives over and over until we never have to be parted from Him again.
As we look forward, O Lord,
to the coming festivities,
may we serve You all the more eagerly
for knowing that in them
You make manifest the beginnings of our redemption.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Prayer over the Offerings from the Christmas Vigil Mass