Hello People of the Resurrection...
Today is the annual “Priesthood Sunday”. As a priest, it’s important to me, even in this stretch of sadness and some suspicion, caused the sin of clerical sexual abuse and episcopal mishandling of it.
Still, I love being a priest & serving in parish life!
Perhaps though, going back to Priesthood’s origins is the best way to mark the Sunday?
So consider today’s 2nd reading:
Hebrews 4:14-16: “We do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet without sin.”
What comfort and priestly identity is found in Jesus, the compassionate & merciful High Priest!
And consider the image on today’s cover: “Mary As Priest” – the work of Francis Deck – at the Chapel of Our Lady of Good Help in Robinsonville.
The idea – that Mary is a priest, because she was the first to ‘make present & deliver’ the Body & Blood of Christ, goes back to the 11th century and St. Bernard of Clairveaux. So please, look carefully:
· she wears priestly vestments
· she strikes the ‘orans’ posture of prayer
· the bread, wine and Bible are before her
· the altar table divides the frame in two
· the Cross is there – Calvary’s ‘altar’
· the 5 white spears – the lily of her purity
· the 5 orange spears – the fire of the Holy Spirit who overshadowed her to conceive Jesus
· the ball of yarn over her stomach – a reference to Psalm 139:13 - “You knit me together in my Mother’s womb.”
· The manger and star of Bethlehem, where the ‘First Mass’ was offered, in a sense, as “The Word became Flesh and dwelt among us.” John 1:14
In our Roman Catholic Tradition the Mass is so closely identified with the Priesthood; the Sunday Mass is our ‘Main Event’ – “The source and summit of our life as the Church, Vatican II declares!
Yet, what the Mass does – bring forth the Real Presence of Christ in the Bread and the Wine, is the life-task of everyone of us – priests by our Baptism! We are called to bring forth Jesus, by every thought, word, deed & effort of our lives!
Like Mary, we become ‘pregnant’ with Christ when we hear the Word, receive the Eucharist and are open to the Holy Spirit at Mass. Then, our job, as priests - one and all - is to ‘deliver’ Him, ‘give birth’ to Him, by the way we live in the world. Our whole life becomes “Mass”!
Yes! There are ‘labor pains’ trying to reveal Jesus to a world that doesn’t know how much it needs Him! We’ll know we’re successful priests, when someone says: “I love the Jesus I see in you”! So, Happy Priesthood Sunday...to YOU!
“God bless us...EVERY one”!