On the Catholic Priesthood
Vocation to Missions Among the Infidels
And He spoke to them this parable, saying, What man of you that hath an hundred sheep,
and if he shall lose one of them, doth he not leave the ninety-nine in the desert, and go
after that which was lost till he find it ? And when he hath found it, lay it upon his shoulders,
rejoicing." — St. Luke xv. 3—5.
Go after that which was lost.
In this Parable Jesus Christ indicates Himself, Who (says St. Gregory) left the choirs of
Angels in Heaven, and, in order to fill up the number of His flock in Heaven, sought lost
man upon earth. And the Priest who leaves the charge of devout souls in order to visit
the land of infidels, and to seek the salvation of those lost souls towards whom Jesus
has such compassion, is a follower of this Good Shepherd, Who came down upon earth
to seek the lost sheep.
Most necessary is it to have pity on those who are perishing (says St. Cyril). This is a most
noble vocation, for it is similar to that of the Son of God ; most glorious is this destiny, which
renders the Missionary a partaker of the Apostolate. The Apostles were to "sit upon thrones "
(St. Luke xxii. 30) — to be " the salt of the earth," "the light of the world," "the light put upon a
candle-stick" (St. Matt. v. 13, 14, 15); and the rewards promised to them — " the hundredfold "
of that which they had left, and the thrones" on which they should "judge the twelve tribes of Israel"
(St. Matt. xix. 28) — represent the infinite value of the recompense reserved for them, and for all
those who are partakers of the Apostolical ministry. Happy those who " are numbered with them
and have part in this ministry" (Acts i. 17) ! whereas to many others God says, " Thou hast no part
nor lot in this matter, for thy heart is not right in the sight of God " (Acts viii. 2 1 ).
What worldly glory can be put in comparison with that of a man thus truly Apostolical ?
How many good works, what great virtue, what abundant merits, are his! How sweet will death
become to him ! How superabundant his happiness in Heaven !