2 November 2014 – 7am, 8:30am, 10:30am, 12:00pm
St. Jude Catholic Parish – Indianapolis, IN
Wisdom 3:1-9 | Psalm 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6 | Romans 5:5-11 | John 6:37-40
Good morning. My name is Deacon Mike Keucher, and I’m in my sixth and final year of seminary at St. Meinrad Seminary, so I’ll be a priest in June. I’m so happy to be here today.
Today we celebrate two things: All Souls Day and Vocations Sunday. These two celebrations come together nicely in the story of David. Many scripture scholars believe that when David wrote that psalm we sang this morning—Ps. 23, the Lord is my Shepherd—he was nearing his death. I imagine an elderly David, lying on his bed and remembering the vocations God had given him and the joy he found in them. He remembered that day that he was anointed king. He remembered learning that his wife was to pregnant with his tenth son. He remembered what it was to be a husband and a father to so many. He probably turned his mind back to those days of shepherding as a young man. He remembered that first poem he wrote. And the more he reflected, the fewer words he could find. He ends up summarizing his life with these words: “My cup overflows.”
Somehow, David had come to realize that he felt most blessed, that his cup felt most filled when he was pouring himself out. He uses that image of a cup to describe his soul—and so it’s a beautiful image to consider on this, All Souls Day. Imagine a cup and an endless pitcher of water flowing into that cup. That’s what it is like for us with God. The beauty of God is that there is always more—and he is always pouring that “more” into our lives even into the deepest parts of our souls. He pours to the point that it spills over and we find ourselves like David, pouring ourselves out in the vocations, the callings that he issues to us.
I was invited here to tell a bit of my own story. I will give you a small chapter of a larger book. I want to take you back to my junior year of high school. My class left early for the Confirmation retreat at St Meinrad–way early. It had been snowing and we’d been praying for a cancellation. But alas. That afternoon, we were given some time to do whatever at St. Meinrad. I went for a walk. I got lost. I remember looking up into the snow as it came upon my face. I saw no vision, heard no voice, but I had a strong sense of God’s presence and peace and love at that moment. I also felt a sense in me: “You will be back here one day.” And I knew it was a seminary, a place where men go to become priests. It’s something like David’s story. At that moment, my soul, my cup felt like it was being filled to the brim and more. And at the same time, I felt like I was coming to know a bit more of how God wanted me to pour myself out in response with my life.
And you know what? God keeps filling my cup to the brim and keeps calling me to pour myself out. Anyone who follows a vocation knows this. God has given me a vocation that has put me to work in over a hundred hospital rooms, in Guatemalan slums, in classrooms around the diocese and in retreat houses; a vocation that has me sitting around countless dining room tables and in chapels and in the rooms of the forgotten about in nursing homes. My vocation has had me baptizing children, preaching the word, and burying the dead. My vocation has given me six happy years of seminary life at the most beautiful place in the world, St. Meinrad. My vocation keeps me busy. Just this week I was at a Halloween party on Friday night, leading a Confirmation retreat all day yesterday, preaching here, and the off to ICYC this afternoon. I will return to the seminary at 11pm, and will begin my paper due tomorrow. Like yours, my vocation keeps me a bit busy sometimes. But you know what? God has filled my cup with the greatest joys in and through it all—he has made my cup overflow. To quote my rector: God has made me love everything my vocation demands, and he has made me love him through it.
That’s not to say all is perfect or should be. The thing about an overflowing cup is that it spills, it gets messy. Following a vocation doesn’t mean all will be perfect or neat or in order. Anyone who has followed a vocation—to priesthood, religious life, married life, sacred single life—knows that while it brings countless blessings to the deepest parts of our souls, messiness is a part of it. Angelic babies are perfect to gaze upon, what a blessing, but they leak all over: they poop and fart and slobber and drool, and they turn into children who get in playground fights and adolescents who slam doors and adults that make mistakes. Marriages get messy too, and so do priesthoods. But the cup still overflows, in and through it all. That is God’s promise to us.
Soon we will receive to overflowing God’s presence out of those cups and into our own, our souls. One sip, one drop of his Precious Blood is enough to fill us to overflowing. Let us pray that every soul in this church, every soul in purgatory, every married soul and every soul in the seminary and priesthood and religious life might be filled with God’s overflowing Goodness, and that all souls might discern well how God wishes them to pour themselves out for the sake of the Kingdom—so that everyone might praise God at this moment, on their death beds, and forever in heaven—echoing those words of David:
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures,
beside restful waters he leadeth me;
he refreshes my soul.
You spread the table before me…
my cup overflows.