I feel extremely privileged and honored when someone invites me to lunch and their desire to dine with me is centered around something either challenging or exciting that is going on in their life. While, for many of you, many deals can get done and decisions made at a lunch table, great spiritual insights are also gained during the lunch hour! “Lunch ministry” is deeply rooted in the Jesus experience who handled so many of his ministerial situations around a meal. I had that experience again this past week, just a couple of hours before Blizzard 2011 set in with a vengeance!
I love my interaction and my ministry to young adults. I find it energizing, fascinating, and essential to the mission of Old St. Pat’s and to the ministry of yours truly. I dined the other day with a 26-year-old young professional who, in the midst of doing business consulting for a living, is asking bigger questions about his life and its direction. Among the many questions he is asking and issues of faith that he is wrestling with, one of the main pieces at the center of his plate is a potential call to being a priest. I do not have many lunch meetings on this topic. He is not sure about it. He has many questions. His discernment continues. We had an honest conversation and we certainly acknowledged that younger people discerning a life to religious life is not exactly being embraced these days with overwhelming popularity. We acknowledged the sad reality today that not only would it be considered “odd” among many to think about a religious vocation, organized religious affiliation and just “going to Church” on Sundays is held suspect by many colleagues in the workplace.
Putting aside all the typical questions related to gender, celibacy, and all the other credible concerns with priesthood and the Church, I can just tell you that if we could clone and create, if you will, a “blizzard” effect of the goodness and spirit of the young man who sat across from me at lunch the other day, this Church of ours would be in pretty healthy shape! As a guy who loves being a priest, nothing gives me greater joy than to talk with and hear the generous idealism of a 26-year-old today. This was a good, honest conversation about where is God calling him to make a difference. It was not about power; it was not about clerical privilege or prestige; it was not about “holier than thou.”
I am a big fan of these past two Sundays and the Gospel stories coming from the “famous” piece known as the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew’s Gospel. His continuation of the sermon (5:13-16) by looking at the crowd and calling them “salt” and “light” is an extremely powerful way of pointing to the truth of who we are. We are the Light of the World, as Jesus acknowledged, and there is a flame of goodness within each one of us that the world is just waiting to experience. In our own unique person, God has fashioned us to hold up some powerful light that contributes to the radiance of creation. Whether it is lunch, dinner, or at the Lord’s table, may we help each other discern which power of light God calls us to carry.
Fr. Tom Hurley