By His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke
Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta
Votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel
Thomas Aquinas College
January 16, 2016
Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen.
The readings from the Holy Scriptures, to which we have just listened, inspire in us a reflection on the divine calling which God gives to each of us, our vocation in life. From the moment of our baptism, God has a plan for each of us, the way in which He desires that we give definitive form to our life in Christ, either in the married life, the dedicated single life, the consecrated life, or the priesthood. God gives us the signs of our vocation all along the years of our childhood and youth, especially when we pray to know our vocation in life. Also, good parents and priests, good teachers, and other faithful members of the Church assist us in knowing our vocation and embracing it with an undivided heart.
In the Gospel (Mk. 2:13-17), Christ went to the most unlikely place, the customs post, to call Levi or Matthew to be an apostle. Even more remarkable than the place was Matthew’s immediate and unquestioning response: “And he got up and followed Jesus.”1 The only explanation of Matthew’s response is the power of divine grace before which he was disposed, notwithstanding the sinfulness of his profession.
Through Matthew, Our Lord met “many tax collectors and sinners”2 who also followed Him. When the scribes complained about His keeping company with sinners like Matthew, Our Lord simply replied that He had come to bring the Father’s merciful healing to sinners. The call of Matthew, in a particular way, manifests the tremendous power of divine mercy for the conversion of Matthew who repented of his sin and responded to his vocation as an apostle in an extraordinary, indeed heroic, way.
In the reading from the First Book of Samuel (9:1-4; 17-19; 10:1), we meet the young Saul, son of Kish, called to be anointed as king. He was clearly a young man of extraordinary natural gifts whom the Lord had chosen “to save [His people] from the grasp of their enemies roundabout.”3 We know that Saul, in time, forgot that it was God Who had anointed him to rule in His divine name and began to believe that he was ruling in his own name. At one point, he even committed the grave sin of going to a sorcerer to seek guidance regarding his rule over the people.4 He tried to kill David whom God had chosen to succeed him and died tragically trying to vindicate his own will against the will of God. He betrayed the vocation of king, a vocation not so well known to us today, by ceasing to cooperate with God’s grace, by refusing to serve God through his governance of the people, in order to serve his own selfish interests.
Our reflection upon vocation as a call to lifelong and faithful love, in accord with God’s call, is particularly blessed through our offering of the Votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary Immaculate, Mother of God and Mother of the Church, draws us ever closer to her Divine Son, alive within our souls through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Through the maternal care of the Virgin Mary, we come to understand more fully the extraordinary nature of our ordinary life because it is lived in Christ. We are led, with Mary, to know God’s call in our lives and to respond, as she did, with an undivided heart.
The Holy Scriptures teach us that the eternal Wisdom of God has been at work from the very beginning of creation. Wisdom, first begotten by God the Father, was His companion in creating everything in accord with His very Being. Wisdom is the Word which orders all things in accord with the perfection of God. The order and harmony of the created world participate in Divine Truth, Goodness, and Beauty, but, in a particular way, all creation finds its summit in the creation of man, the only earthly creature created in the very image and likeness of God.5
The Book of Proverbs reveals how the work of Divine Wisdom in the creation of the world is, in a special way, always for the good of man. Let us listen to the words of Divine Wisdom Who describes the work of the Creator:
[W]hen He marked out the foundations of the earth,
then I was beside Him, like a master workman;
and I was daily His delight,
rejoicing before Him always,
rejoicing in the inhabited world
and delighting in the sons of men.6
Truly, our ordinary life is profoundly extraordinary for we have been created for communion with God, in accord with His eternal and unchanging Wisdom. Our communion with God attains its expression in our faithful and enduring love, according to the call which God gives to each of us.
The Wisdom of God is personified in God the Son Who brings it to realization in the Church, His Mystical Body. In the Mystery of the Redemptive Incarnation, God has given the fullness of expression to the truth and love with which He created the world and with which, in a most particular way, He takes delight “in the sons of men.”7 The Blessed Virgin Mary manifests the extraordinary nature of our being, as God has created us, for she, from the first moment of her life, was preserved from every stain of sin, from anything which could lessen or destroy her communion with God, in order to respond faithfully and enduringly to her vocation of Mother of God.
Saint Paul teaches us, in the Letter to the Colossians, that we, too, are called to share in Christ’s redemptive work in every time and place, and in that sense, to “complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of … the Church.” We see the image of that call in the mystical piercing of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, at the foot of the Cross, when she saw the Roman soldier pierce the Divine Heart of her Son with his spear. In the Eucharistic Sacrifice, we imitate Mary Immaculate. Even as Christ pours out ever anew His life for us in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, as He first did on the cross at Calvary, so also we, with Mary, unite ourselves to Christ in His Sacrifice, embracing our vocation for the salvation of the world.
Mary Immaculate now leads us to the Eucharistic Sacrifice in which we, with her, are united with Christ, her Son, in the offering of His life for the salvation of all men. She also leads us to the Fruit of His Sacrifice: Communion in His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, which purifies of our sins and strengthens us to know our vocation in life and to embrace it with pure and selfless love of God and of our neighbor. Let us pray for each other today, that those who are seeking to know God’s will for them will recognize their vocation and embrace it with all their heart, and that those who have already responded to God’s call in their lives will grow daily in the faithful, generous, and pure love which it demands.
Heart of Jesus, our life and resurrection, have mercy on us. Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, Foster Father of Jesus and Spouse of the Virgin Mary, pray for us. Saint Thomas Aquinas, pray for us.
1 Mk 2:I4
2 Mk 2:I5
3 I Sm 10:I
4 I Sm 28:7-8
5 Cf. Gen 1:27.
6 Prov 8:29-31.
7 Prov 8:31.