Homily – April 1, 2021

Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper
Year B

One week ago, roughly 62 people gathered at St. Michael’s Cathedral for a Mass and holy hour to pray for vocations to the priesthood. Young men, teens with their dads – along with a few moms – some dads just came to pray for their boys. A friend of mine came all the way from Williamstown with his young son. There were also 14 priests who attended. There was also one other interesting aspect – a protestor. There was a lady standing, peacefully, in the parking lot of the Cathedral with a sign advocating for women’s ordination – which as we know is not permitted by the Catholic Church … which has nothing to do with skillset – a common misunderstanding. It has everything to do with Christ and the Fatherhood of God …

It was a timely protest on the cusp of Holy Thursday and that great event in which Jesus instituted the Priesthood and at the same time, the pattern of our worship, the Holy Eucharist. On this holy of night’s Christ looked to His Apostles, as He gave them bread as His Body and wine as His Blood … He said: “this is my Body given for you; this is my Blood shed for you” and then He pronounced this command – “do this in memory of me”. The Last Supper, the Eucharist, and the Priesthood are intimately connected. Let’s unpack this a bit…

When Jesus offers Himself as food, it is not just a meal He institutes. In this He anticipates the offering Himself, His body and blood on the cross – St. Matthew uses the phrase “blood poured out” – Christ literally empties Himself. He is the sacrificial Lamb who lay down His life for His sheep. Food and sacrifice are intimately connected. And this is where Christ gives His Apostles the command – this YOU will do in my memory … memorial, in the Jewish sense of the word, is not like looking at old photos and reminiscing. It is to make present, to enter into the very event of the Last Supper … the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ. For what? For life … For the life of the world … that Christ may rescue us from sin and make Himself present in us… and this is what He is telling them, commanding … lay down your lives, offer yourselves as I have offered myself – bring life to souls, to continue the rescue mission in order that we may not die the sleep of death but rise with Christ to life in His name.

This is precisely the nature of fatherhood … fathers empty themselves, pour themselves out and that offering is received by their bride, she takes him in, receives him and brings forth life. Fathers lay down their lives in order to bring life to their families. Spiritual fatherhood is just that … a priest empties himself, pours himself out and his bride – the Church – receives that offering and via baptism and the Sacraments of the Church, brings new life to souls. Priests are fathers in the spiritual realm … not because of anything they can do or not do because of Christ. By virtue of ordination a priest is conformed, in his soul, to Christ – intimately bonded to Him for all eternity. Christ, the Son of God – who is one with God the Father – enters the soul of a priest and thus the priest then reflects in himself the Fatherhood of God …

Isn’t it true that when we observe the world in which we live we see a lot of violence … violence between warring nations, mass shootings, abortion, violence against women and their dignity … violence against men and their masculinity… absentee dads, broken families … there is violence and suffering at every turn … There is need then, for stability … for a fatherhood that reflects the goodness of God … a fatherhood that – as Christ intended – carries out the rescue mission – the mission of love, reconciliation … a mission that is an offering of one’s whole life. This is the priesthood. And it is this unbroken line of spiritual fatherhood that has passed on in the Church from its very beginning.

I didn’t talk to that protestor and quite frankly, if I did, I’m not sure I could have convinced her otherwise … I know that it is not my place to argue with Christ, the teaching of the faith nor the Tradition of the Church on this matter … I know this however, ordained in Persona Christi – in the Person of Christ – I will continue to offer my life so that Christ’s mission of reconciliation may take hold of your life.

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