The Lord Himself Is Your Heritage
January 26, 2022
Every day, priests and religious across the world pray a series of prayers throughout the day called the Liturgy of the Hours. Providentially, during our time in the Holy Land, the readings from the first of these prayers, the Office of Readings, have focused on Moses’ words to God’s people as they prepare to enter the Promised Land.
This Sunday, the First Reading began with the following verses: “The whole priestly tribe of Levi shall have no share in the heritage with Israel… Levi shall have no heritage among his brothers; the Lord himself is his heritage, as he has told him.” (Deuteronomy 18:1-2).
This passage gives us an insight into the vocation of the Levitical priests of the Old Covenant. All the other tribes of Israel had a share in the Promised Land, all except the tribe of Levi. Set aside to be priests, their only heritage was the Lord himself.
This dimension of priestly identity under the Old Covenant struck me with new meaning since coming to the Holy Land. Seeing this land for myself makes me wonder what it would have been like for the Levitical priests to embrace such a different identity from their fellow Israelites. I imagine it must have been difficult to hear those words from Moses that they would have no share in the land, such an important part of the identity of Israel as God’s chosen people. But what an honor it would have been to receive, instead of the gift of the Promised Land, the gift of a life devoted to the Lord himself.
These verses have particular meaning for me at this time in my life, as I approach Ordination. They helped me realize that my brother seminarians and I who are on this pilgrimage together have something in common with the ancient Levitical priests. Those priests lacked the heritage of their fellow Israelites, but received a unique identity of service to the Lord. As seminarians on the threshold of Ordination, we believe that the Lord has called us to forego the Sacrament of Marriage and the lay vocation, the “heritage” of our brothers and sisters in Christ, and receive instead the call to serve Jesus by being configured to him. Seeing this connection between my own vocation and the priestly identity of our spiritual ancestors gives me a renewed gratitude for this profound gift that I have received from the Lord.
I praise God that this time in the Holy Land has helped deepen my gratitude for my vocation. I pray that Catholics everywhere will experience the profound generosity of Our Father in the life to which he has called them.
Diocese of Lafayette