Theme: “Your Contribution towards the Priesthood”
Dearly beloved, we have gathered to celebrate the twofold sacraments of the priesthood and the Holy Eucharist. Both the Eucharist and the priesthood “were born” during the Last Supper. By His words “do this in remembrance of me” Christ instituted the Priesthood while giving the disciples the privilege of perpetuating His actions at the last supper. We therefore see in the Acts of the Apostles much evidence of the early disciples celebrating the Eucharist in obedience to our Lord’s commands.
Dearly Beloved, St. Paul, one of the greatest Apostles in the history of the church was not present at the last supper. We however, listen to his words from the second reading.
“I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you,
that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over,
took bread, and, after he had given thanks,
broke it and said, "This is my body that is for you.
Do this in remembrance of me."
In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying,
"This cup is the new covenant in my blood.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me."
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup,
you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.”
We contemplate on how our Lord will entrust such a treasure of His own Body and Blood to these men with questionable character. We will read at the Good Friday service how all of them betrayed and deserted him. Our Lord knew all of this and had pre-warned Peter, “before the cock crows, you would have denied three times of knowing me.” He knew they were unworthy, and yet He entrusted His very ministry to them. He himself was going to act in them; which He did. And we call that “GRACE”.
St. Paul writes, though in a different context, in 2 Cor 4:7 “But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.”
Dearly Beloved, we all know the state of the priesthood today. Many are hurt and disappointed by the scandals from priests, and rightly so. Are these scandals affecting seminarians and parents’ willingness to encourage their children to respond to the priestly vocation? Yes, of course. If such a trend continues, would it eventually affect places where the Eucharist is celebrated daily, - definitely!
Tonight’s celebration of these twofold related mysteries offers us every opportunity first to thank God for the gift of His Body and Blood. Second, to thank Him for the lives of the priest who celebrate and make the Eucharist available to His Church. Third to encourage each other to Pray for the Priest. Especially, your priest.
The writer to the Hebrews writing in another context about the High Priesthood of Jesus wrote in Heb 5 “Every high priest chosen from among mortals is put in charge of things pertaining to God on their behalf, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He is able to deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is subject to weakness; 3 and because of this he must offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people. 4 And one does not presume to take this honor, but takes it only when called by God, just as Aaron was.”
Beloved, the courage each day to climb the altar of God (as priests) and to minister, is made possible by the power of the Holy Spirit who sanctifies and makes us ready for this purpose. There is nothing of our own merits to be proud or to boast about. We go through all you go through. The only difference probably, is the GRACE of ordination which I have.
For who he is called to be and for what he is chosen to fulfill, the priest is under constant attack from the enemy. The saying goes “if gold should rust, what will iron do?” In other words, the devil’s attack on the head- the priest- is very strategic.
If you are grateful to God for the Eucharist, if you are proud of this unique gift and will protect it with our lives, then you owe it to God as a response of your gratitude to pray for the daily sanctification and renewal of the priest whose vocation makes the Eucharist available. Will that be too much or illogical to ask? No! We need your prayers.