The prophet Hosea was commissioned by God to preach to the Israelites because they their faith, disconnected from God, were separated from the covenant and were lost on their own accord. There is a liturgical song that is titled, Hosea which ponders on the meaning of coming back to God. On Friday, March 31 a group of young adults gathered at Ascension Catholic Mission Church in Houston with the purpose of having a night of reflection & fellowship. Maryknoll priests, Fr. Rodrigo Ulloa, Fr. Rafael Davila and the team leaders of the young adult group welcomed all participants who totaled 40, an auspicious number for Lent.
We were blessed to have young adults who are registered in the neighboring parishes around the famous Bellaire Blvd. here in Chinatown, in the western part of Houston. Using the lyrics of the Hosea song, Fr. Rodrigo led a small talk using three key points: bend, heart and wait. The second line of the first verse in this song says, “Trees do bend.” When he visited Africa as a seminarian, Fr. Rodrigo learned an African proverb, “The wind does not break a tree that bends.” Every young adult discerning a vocation needs to be flexible and adaptable when understanding God’s ways. What holds the tree in place under so much wind pressure? The roots that are underneath. Young adults need to root themselves in Jesus.
The second verse of this song talks about the wilderness “leading you to your heart, where God speaks.” We all experience the wilderness in some way or another. We will be thrown out of the nest at some point in life. But the wilderness is not a problem, but a place where we acquire character and strength. The wilderness helps our hearts learn to detach from temptations. Jesus says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” The prophet Hosea was persuaded to speak to the hearts of the Israelites who were lost in the wilderness. Discerning a vocation should not be confused with going through the wilderness. Above all, we must remember to take heart and to draw strength from our prayer life.
The final key point is found in the refrain of this song. It reads, “Long have I waited for your coming.” There is a part in Mass when we pray, “deliver us Lord from every evil and graciously grant peace in our days that by the help of your mercy we may be always free from sin and safe from all distress as we await… the blessed coming…of our Savior Jesus Christ.” In the life of every young adult, waiting with quality is a precious tool to have.
After the talk, we had an hour of Adoration and everyone was encouraged to re-visit those three points. The sacrament of reconciliation was offered throughout the night. After benediction, we thanked all participants for coming. During the final announcements, each participant received a miraculous medal; we announced the 2023 Maryknoll mission trips and a follow up adult reflection night near Pentecost.
I take this opportunity to encourage you to keep praying to unpack, discern and discover your Vocation as a Priest or Brother in Maryknoll.