The first of the La Divina Pastora second Sunday devotions began with the sub-theme ‘Mary Mother of Priestly Vocations’ and felt like an act of divine intervention especially as November 11 also marked the start of Vocations Awareness Week.
Fr Alan Hall and the La Divina Pastora Devotions Committee chose an overall theme of Mary Mother of Vocations for the 2018–2019 series of second Sunday La Divin Devotions to encourage pilgrims to pray for vocations.
Msgr Christian Pereira graciously agreed to share on the theme Mary Mother of Priestly Vocations and linked it to the weekend’s readings that focused on Elijah’s widow (1 King 17:10–16) and the widow (Mark 12:38–44) Jesus observed in the temple.
Msgr Pereira elaborated on the importance of following examples of good discipleship, trusting in God and being faithful stewards within the Church. He also emphasised that a spirituality of stewardship is needed within the Church as we hope and pray for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
Msgr Pereira said there were three lessons to be learnt from the two widows mentioned in the weekends’ readings. These widows, despite the dire circumstances of their lives and the period of resentment towards God experienced when their husbands passed away, remained faithful to the Word of God and His temple.
Elijah’s widow shared the meal that was supposed to be the final sustenance for her young son and herself with the prophet, a complete stranger. The widow Jesus witnessed at the temple gave willingly of her meagre earnings as an offering that would assist in the upkeep of the temple.
Both women had genuine reasons to resist being kind to a stranger or contributing towards temple projects that may build up God’s Kingdom but they faithfully honoured God’s Word through selfless service to others.
The second lesson to be learnt from both widows is to fully trust in God regardless of our status in life, experiences of bereavement, loss of jobs, and loss of property. We must trust that God still loves us and is constantly working to improve our situations. Both widows gave of themselves despite their circumstances.
The third aspect about both widows we are called to exemplify is their stewardship. Stewardship requires that we give of our time, talent and treasure for the building up of God’s Kingdom. This stewardship can be exercised within our churches but also through contributions to organisations that assist the poor and needy in society.
Many can barely afford to give money to the church or worthy causes but equally valuable time and talents can be given. These widows in the weekend readings had very little to live on but still shared what they could with a stranger and the temple.
Msgr Pereira indicated that Mary shared a similar experience of loss. At some point in scripture, she lost her husband Joseph but did not wallow in grief and resentment. She continued to serve God faithfully by being a supportive disciple to her Son, Jesus.
Msgr Pereira stressed that Mary was the ultimate example of a great steward as very early in her life she agreed to overturn her own life plans to be of service to God. When the angel approached her, she agreed to turn over her own life plans and become the mother of Jesus, for the purpose of full service to God.
Msgr Pereira reflected despondently on the fact that many of us discourage others from answering the call God has upon their lives because these plans are contrary to our own expectations. Many parents have plans for their children to excel at school, and study at universities to become doctors, lawyers and engineers.
Parents and other family members discourage young men and women from exploring God’s call. They cannot accept that young, bright, handsome men can be called to God’s priesthood.
He insisted that it was time we follow the example of Mary and if our sons are contemplating priesthood we must stand by them and encourage the exploration of their call—allow others to be what they are called to be.
Mary was pained by the suffering her Son endured on His journey to the cross but she did not spend her time berating God for the suffering Jesus endured but lovingly supported Him by standing at His side at every step of the journey to fulfil His call. She allowed Him to be what He was called to be even as she mourned His loss.
Msgr Pereira claimed that “there seems to be a spiritual war going on between us and God, too many of us in the belly of the Church are busy fighting with God and therefore we can’t find time to nurture a spirit of stewardship among ourselves”.
He said that the spirituality of stewardship involves putting God first, acknowledging and testifying to the primacy of God in our lives, dealing with our own issues and moving on, constantly renewing our faith in the Word of God.
He cautioned the congregation to be very careful about fighting the will of Jesus as “some of us think we are fighting the devil when in fact we are fighting the will of God; when we are fighting the will of God we do not have time to be stewards”.
In closing, he prayed that through the example of the widows and Mary, the mother of God, La Divina Pastora will nurture and foster priestly vocations within our Church.
The second in the series is this Sunday with Fr Dexter Brereton CSSp. The theme is Mary at the Wedding Feast of Cana. – Crystal Gabrielle M Sylvester, parishioner