Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies



Melchizedek Project
Holy Hour for Vocations
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
Year C

The motion picture film ‘Bruce Almighty’ portrays a man, played by Jim Carey, who is selfish, self-centered and arrogant. He is in a relationship with a woman, Grace (played by Jennifer Aniston). He works as a news reporter vying for the position of anchor. When he does not get the job he goes off the deep end, makes a fool of himself on live TV, gets fired from his job, beaten up by thugs, loses his girlfriend, crashes his car, and cries out to God – in whom, at this point, he really doesn’t believe. God, played by Morgan Freeman, gives Bruce all his power. He does so in order to show him that life cannot revolve around himself. He cannot be self-centered. Bruce uses all the power he was given to win Grace back but he cannot affect her free will. In the search to find meaning, Bruce learns to seek that which is good – the true good that seeks the benefit of another. He longs simply for her happiness. His pride is overcome and his heart is opened up to true love.

In the Gospel reading, the young man approaches Jesus and calls Him “Good.” What does this man see in Jesus that motivates him to call Him ‘good?’ Essentially, the question is one that lies on the heart of all people – what must I do to attain happiness? This young man senses that there must be a connection between moral goodness and true human fulfillment. In order to understand Jesus’ response, Blessed Pope John Paul II, commenting on Matthew’s version of this Gospel,  in his Encyclical Letter Veritatis Splendor, notes:

“Before answering the question, Jesus wishes the young man to have a clear idea of why he asked his question. The ‘Good Teacher’ points out to him – and to all of us – that the answer to the question, ‘What good must I do to have eternal life?’ can only be found by turning one’s mind and heart to the ‘One’ who is good… Only God can answer the question about what is good because he is the Good itself” (VS, n. 9).  

It is therefore, truly, a religious question that attracts us to God. Jesus, then, shows that what lies at the very heart of the happiness of man is God. He is the source of goodness and the answer to all of man’s longings. Even Hollywood films, however theological incorrect they may be, show the need for God to lead us to seek the true Good. This young man recognizes that already in Jesus. This is precisely why Jesus does not list all the commandments. There is already in this young man’s heart and knowledge of the true Good. The ones that Jesus does mention represent the “second tablet” of the Decalogue – “the basic condition,” Blessed John Paul comments, “for love of neighbor.” The commandments, as a whole, are like sign posts that direct us to true human fulfillment and are a path to heaven.

“You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give it to the poor…” Jesus points out to us and to the young man how the commandments are the first step toward freedom, to the gift of a person’s total self, which is the essence of love.  In this response, however, He digs deeper into this man’s heart inviting Him to greater love. Such love requires a generous heart. Something Our Lord recognizes in this young man. This is why He speaks to him with such tenderness and affection. Jesus, thus, invites this man to greater intimacy with Him; an intimacy that requires renunciation and the giving of his whole heart, his entire self. This is a vocation to which we are all called. We are invited to love – to love God in a complete and total gift of self. This is the primary vocation of us all, the call to holiness, to be saints so as to live in total communion with our “Good Teacher.” The route we take is what we call our secondary vocation and it is the second step toward inner freedom. It is up to us to discover the path that God wishes us to follow.

“…then come, follow me.” By responding to God’s invitation to love more deeply, more completely and more freely, we will inevitably be drawn into a deeper and more profound communion with Him. In other words, we learn to give of ourselves more fully by responding to Lord’s call to love and thus learn to grasp at that which is the penultimate good – the possession of God, union with the Blessed Trinity. Again, Blessed John Paul II notes:

“This is not a matter of disposing oneself to hear a teaching and obediently accepting a commandment. More radically, it involves holding fast to the very person of Jesus, partaking of his life and his destiny, sharing in his free and loving obedience to the will of Father… Following Christ is not an outward imitation, since it touches man at the very depths of his being. Being a follower of Christ means becoming conformed to him who became a servant even to giving himself on the Cross” (VS, nos. 19, 21).

To follow Christ is to grasp His love, engage in it, and respond to it in the only way appropriate – with love in return. This love demands relationship, an experience of a personal encounter with the Risen Lord. Vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life are born from this encounter with Jesus. Perhaps, then, we could imagine ourselves kneeling before the Lord in this Gospel scene. We are the ones asking… “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” We are the ones that come face to face with our Lord and He invites us to conformity with Him as His priests. Are we willing to “sell all that we have” or in other words, let go of our entire selves, are we willing to be a gift to Jesus, a gift of undivided love. Jesus invites you not simply to follow Him outwardly, but to be interiorly transformed – ontologically changed – into an ‘Alter Christus’ (Another Christ). Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, in his message on the 50th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, comments on following Christ in this way:

“Following him means immersing our own will into the will of Jesus, truly giving him priority, giving him pride of place in every area of our lives… It means handing over our very lives to Him, living in profound intimacy with Him, entering through Him into communion with the Father in the Holy Spirit, and consequently with our brothers and sisters. This communion of life with Jesus is the privileged ‘setting’ in which we can experience hope and in which life will be full and free.”

“Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Seek the Good. Give of yourself. Love. Be ready to open your heart in a generous donation of self to God that is lived in a deeply held communion with Him. In this you will discover His will and make strides toward total inner freedom and true human fulfillment.









Fr. Jon Reardon

Rev. Jonathan L. Reardon is a priest for the diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts.
He serves at Sacred Heart Parish in Pittsfield, MA.



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