June 08, 2018

New men for this new moment

By Archbishop José H. Gomez *
Priest collar / Credit Gregory Dean via www.shutterstock.com_CNA
Priest collar / Credit Gregory Dean via www.shutterstock.com_CNA

This weekend I will ordain nine fine men to the priesthood.

For these past eight years, God has been blessing the family of God here in Los Angeles with growing numbers of men who are answering the call of Jesus to follow and serve him as his priests. Thanks be to God!

Our St. John’s Seminary is full with good men and so is our Queen of Angels Center for Priestly Formation. Every day we are meeting even more who are searching for their path, praying and trying to discern God’s calling in their lives. 

In this society, where so much of life is “programmed” and where there are so many mindsets and messages that promise happiness but cannot deliver it, it is beautiful to see people, especially our young people, looking for a life that is true and real. 

All around I see signs of a new openness to God and to the values that make for human transcendence. There is a new resistance to the “false ceiling” imposed by a society that seeks to close itself off from God. People seem no longer willing to settle for the substitutes and idols, “the more of the same” being offered by a consumer way of life. 

The priests of this new millennium are a part of this new movement toward God and an authentic humanity.

As we see with the priests we have been ordaining here in Los Angeles, these new priests are called from many different cultures and backgrounds.

They have “backstories” that are really interesting, they are fun to talk to and spend time with. You want to be their friends and most important, you want to know what makes them “tick,” what fills them with such enthusiasm and joy.

There is something going on here. Beneath all the statistics and reports that we read about millennials and young adults, the Spirit is moving – and we need to keep praying and asking what he is trying to say to us.

I have been thinking that for all their diversity, all of our new priests share a basic understanding that our life in this world is a journey – a journey that for them, and for each one of us, begins with the call of God.

Every life is a vocation, a response to the voice of God who calls each one of us into being. 

I know I say this all the time. But we need to hear this message again and again – like water dripping on the stones of our hearts, until finally a way breaks through and the simple and beautiful truth of our existence begins to take root and grow in us.

In the beginning of creation, we hear God’s voice calling, “Let there be!” God speaks into being in succession – first light, and then heaven and earth; then the sun, the moon and the stars; and then all the living creatures in the waters and in the sky and on land. 

Finally, God says, “Let us make human beings in our own image, after our likeness.” 

This is the story of your creation. You are here, you exist and have being, because God wants you here. When you were conceived in your mother’s womb it was because God said, “Let there be you.” He knew your name, even before your parents were born.

This is the amazing reality that we need to appreciate. It is even more urgent now in this time where God is being made to disappear and the human being is on the verge of being forgotten, too – where more and more people are treated as objects that can be replaced or tools to be used to further the ambitions of others.  

Our new priests know they are being ordained to evangelize in these troubled times.

Our new priests are men who know that God is alive, our maker and our redeemer, and that he has sent his Son Jesus Christ to make us right with God, to reconcile us and show us the truth of our lives and to gather us into one family to serve and live as a new humanity.

And they have a deep desire and passion to get started and to proclaim this good news to the people of our time. 

Pray for me this week and I will be praying for you. And let us pray for our new priests. May they always seek to grow in their relationship with Jesus and their desire to call others to that encounter with him. 

And let us ask our Blessed Mother Mary to intercede for us and help us to be a family of God that continues to bring more men and women to hear the calling of God to the priesthood and the consecrated life. 

Most Rev. José H. Gomez is the Archbishop of Los Angeles, California.

* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.