Approximately fifty priests gathered at the Archbishop Brunett Retreat Center today for the second of three opportunities for prayer and fraternity. I’m deeply grateful to Fr. Dave Mulholland and our Office of Vicar for Clergy staff who planned these days, and especially for his presentation to the priests.

The Presbyteral Council has been here for an extended meeting the past two days, and we began our day in this chapel for Mass. I am grateful to this consultative body for their good counsel and our lively discussions.

I’ll share my homily below. It obviously was addressed to a group of priests, but many of the thoughts are applicable to all.

This is also the Week of Prayer for Vocations, so please keep in prayer all who are searching for wisdom, understanding and discernment of God’s will in their life. May they have the grace and love to respond generously to the call of Jesus.

Today’s readings: St. Paul to Philemon 7-20; Luke 17:20-25

As men, we tend to be ‘doers’ – men of action. Further, as Americans, if and when we see there is a problem, we need to fix it!

So the question is: as priests, how does this impact our spirituality; our relationship with Jesus; our role in the Kingdom of Heaven; our ability to love?

Our relationship with Jesus, with God, is essentially rooted in love, and this means an exchange of love, in which God always takes the initiative.

St. Paul appeals to Philemon through love: “I urge you out of love.” He further clarifies that this love may not be forced, but must be voluntary. St. Paul also indicates the result of a loving response will “refresh my heart in Christ.”

This is how we enter the Divine Love of God; the exchange of love between the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, by our voluntary gift of self, which is a gift of love.

I have gained insight over the year how my day-to-day life, so often routed in ‘activity’ needs to be rooted in love, which is my ‘entry’ into this Divine Love.

Every day begins, even while I wake, with a morning offering – and each day ends by ‘giving’ to God all that day held as a response, an offering of love. Recall the words of the Morning Offering, in which we give to God all our prayers, works, joys and sufferings.

While some of these activities may be seen, the interior movements of the heart are seen only by God. It is in the silent recess of the heart where we find Christ, love, and the Kingdom of God.

The Kingdom of God, Christ, is indeed in our midst!

Love is the key.