Sunday, November 8, 2015

Second Hand Priest

As some of you know, in August my ministry changed to full time at the Pastoral Center and helping out on weekends at St. Augustine's Parish with Hispanic Ministry. Today is a sad day in that parish. After almost 20 years as pastor of that parish, and 44 years as a priest,MonseƱor Miguel, as he is known to the Hispanic Community, is retiring effective November 22.

As I looked at the readings for today I searched for some word that speaks to this situation and I found it in the second reading from the Letter to the Hebrews. In the letter to the Hebrews we are all reminded what it really means to be a priest.

The Letter to the Hebrews reminds us all that there is only one High Priest for the entire Church. That High Priest is Jesus Christ. All the rest of us who have the privilege of being priests are mere collaborators. On the day of our baptism we first become participants in the priesthood of Christ. From the baptized some are called and by virtue of ordination empowered to share in a particular way in the priesthood of Jesus Christ.  But even though we share in it, we can never forget that it remains always His.  One of the reasons we cover ourselves in layers of vestments at mass is to cover our peculiarity.  It can never be about me. Every word every action must be about HIM.

So much in our modern culture has become cult of personality (entertainment, sports, politics). Church can never be that. As much as some people love Pope Francis, he would be the first to tell you that his only task is to point you toward Jesus.

On the day of our ordination we promise respect and obedience to the bishop and his successors, and we go where we are needed for as long as we areneeded in that place and we move on. We are human beings and we need the care and support of the people but ultimately we must like John the Baptist remind even our biggest fans, "I am not He."

Change is always difficult but if we keep our eyes fixed on the High Priest who offered the one sacrifice once for all, we know that things will not only be new and different, but better, because we are all pilgrims on the road that leads to the fullness of the Kingdom of God.