There is a beautiful tradition at the North American College – the seminary I attended in Rome. At the end of a seminarian’s time – provided he has been ordained a deacon or priest – there is a “send-off”. When he has completed his studies and formation, at the closing banquet he is called out by the master of ceremonies. It goes like this: “Rev. Jonathan Reardon, sent to preach the Gospel in the Diocese of Springfield, MA.” After each man is called out, the refectory erupts in applause. It is a symbolic gesture on the part of the seminary community that recognizes that this chapter of the journey has ended and a new one begins. Now, he goes home in order to engage in the mission for which he has been called – ordained.
What did Jesus wish regarding the Church that He founded? That the Church carry out His mission. That the same purpose and mandate be perpetuated until His glorious Second Coming. And so He chose ordinary men to be His ambassadors. He chose them to go out, to not be afraid and to preach this Good News … but to do more than just use words … more than just make a proclamation … He inflated them with His own divine Spirit, gave them authority – from His own being – to fulfill the assignment given to them … to carry out the mission. And what is that mission? To reconcile humanity to the Father. Notice that the authority to forgive sins follows the commission and the dispensing of the Spirit … This is precisely the task at hand … to reconcile us to God…. To be dispensers of Divine Mercy. This is what priests do … Between the Eucharist and Confession the priest becomes a conduit of grace that allows our hearts to be inflated with the Spirit.
Friends, remember our souls are delicate and easily bruised… by the weight of our sins and the wounds of the past … Before us each day is an opportunity to allow our compassionate Lord tend to our souls, heal our wounds and forgive our sins … we find this grace in confession. It is there where we meet the Lord in our delicateness … there we meet Him with our regrets, our guilt … and it is there where encounter His compassion, where He lightens our burdens and inflates us with His love. The mission is that of reconciliation – mercy… the priest is the ambassador … Christ is the Healer. So why not, on this Divine Mercy weekend let the priest fulfill his mission – Christ’s mission – in you?