Peter said, “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, rise and walk.” (Acts 3:6)
With these words spoken to a lame beggar outside the Temple in Jerusalem, Peter and John performed the first recorded act of healing by Jesus’ disciples after he had left them at his Ascension into heaven. It was a critical moment in the history of the Church because it was the moment when two of Jesus’ closest followers confirmed for themselves that his life, death, and resurrection had bestowed upon them the ability to manifest the Holy Spirit’s healing power. All they had at hand was the name of Jesus and the deep desire in their hearts that the beggar be healed.
For every Christian, there comes a point at which he has to decide whether the eternal Truth of Christ is true for him. In the Gospels, “faith” is never simply an act of passive intellectual assent, rather it is the foundation for concrete actions, made in trust but ultimately made in the face of uncertainty.
For seminarians, the days and weeks following Easter provide powerful opportunities for discovering how deeply they themselves embrace the Truth of the Paschal Mystery. Most of them have served in Holy Week services: for some it was their first Holy Week as a seminarian; for the deacons, it was their first journey from the Last Supper, through the Passion, to the Resurrection as an ordained man. Not unlike Peter and John, their public identity was different at those services, compared to the years prior to their entering seminary, because something has truly been changing within them. As they served at altars in their home dioceses, as they enjoyed meals around the familiar tables of family and friends, as they accompanied their pastors on Communion visits—in myriad ways they were learning what it means to use only the “name of Jesus Christ” to bring healing to others, if they chose to do so. The radical commitment of faith that is called for from a true disciple is not formed overnight. It didn’t happen quickly for the apostles and it won’t happen quickly for a diocesan priest. Easter faith must be grounded on the intentional, steady growth that characterizes any sound relationship of love.
No sooner have the seminarians returned from Easter break than they are preparing for the diaconate and priesthood ordinations in their dioceses. Whether a man is being ordained himself or whether he is praying for his brothers, in anticipation of his own ordination down the road, this is a time of year when seminarians ask themselves anew: “Is this call, this vocation, real for me? Can I bring healing, or wisdom, or encouragement to another, in the ‘name of Jesus Christ’?” Only if a man can let go of his self-reliance—his “silver and gold”—can he adequately discover just how powerful the mere name of Jesus can be.
Because of their human relationship with the lame beggar, Peter and John could witness the divine grace of Jesus’ name. Our seminarians witness that same grace in and through their relationships with all of you. I encourage you to reach out to them in prayer, to engage them when they come to serve in your parishes, and to always inspire young men to listen for and answer the vocational call. Your faith in them helps nurture their faith in the transformative healing power of the name of Jesus.
Together with you in Christ, we are Mundelein. We form parish priests.