The gospel tells us that the prodigal son squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation. Dissipation...a big word that means he was spending, and spending wildly, using all his resources. Maybe he went one too many times to the pub, not that we’d know anything about that!
It seems to me that the prodigal son was trying to find his way, and doing the first thing that came to mind. Instead of a gradual separation from the family that we are somewhat familiar with...he left abruptly and made major mistakes...wasting it all. He took no time to figure out what he should really be doing with his life.
Each of us has to find our way in life. We do that in relationship with those around us. Family, friends, and God. When you’re trying to find your way, you ask: Who do I want to be? What do I believe? What do I want to do?
As a high school student I had some serious questions about my faith...faith and church were a major part of my family life, but somehow I didn’t know exactly what it all meant. I got involved in service and campus ministry, started to connect with other students at the school. Light bulb! Faith was not just about believing, but DOING. Living out my beliefs, taking what I got in Church and activating it.
High school is actually where I met the Brothers...I remember on registration day seeing a Brother and saying to myself “What is that guy wearing?!” A long black dress. Nowadays I know it’s called a religious habit. I had this curiosity in my heart about the Brothers...“maybe someday you’ll do that... just not now”.
I went to college and loved it, working a couple of different jobs, dating, changing my major until I found what fit, and continuing to work in youth and young adult ministry during school. The ministry was so exciting to me, it had become an important way to serve. By the end of college, I felt I had accomplished a lot, but that idea of being a Brother just tugged at me. An unresolved question.
The second reading spoke about us being ambassadors for Christ...and that’s what I didn’t have figured out... God...what kind of ambassador do you want me to be for you?
So I did a volunteer year across the river at the Marist Brothers Center in Esopus, which was a great opportunity to work and also keep trying to figure out what God wanted.
As I worked, as I prayed, talked to a lot of Brothers, and friends, I knew it was time to give this a shot...and I entered the Brothers.
It was a process of discovering...that’s the great thing about becoming who you are...it doesn’t happen all at once. That can also be challenging, because we want answers, we feel pressure around us...we want it ALL right now just like the prodigal son.
But if we take our time, build up our relationship with God and those around us, ask questions, and take chances...great things happen. Maybe the desire of your heart to work and serve in a specific field is exactly what God wants of you.
My desire to work with youth and young adults led me to become a religious Brother. And your own desire may have a very fitting home in a religious community of Brothers, Sisters, or Priests...or maybe not. What’s important is to ask ourselves....what is my vocation? And be open to the possibilities.
We all are called in one way or another to serve God by giving our lives. So ask yourself the question: What is worth the gift of my life?