Homily – July 11, 2021

XV Sunday in Ordinary Time
Year B

Who would want to be a priest today? Seriously … this is something I have heard from some people – from Catholics in our pews … Who would want to be a priest today? It was the very same question that was posed to me when I entered the seminary… It was a time when the Church in the United States was just coming to grips with a scandal that shook us to our very core. The abuse, the hurt, and the damage done by priests made people wonder – why, why would any man want to be a priest? It placed a stigma on the “good guys” and began a downward spiral that has led to the decline in practice of the faith and a lack of vocations to the priesthood in our Diocese. Perhaps at this point you might be thinking… is there a bright side to this homily?? Yes, there is …

In the gospel St. Mark describes the mission of the Apostles – which incidentally is the mission of the priesthood. But notice what he says: First, Jesus summoned them … He called them to Himself, drew them into Himself and then sent them out … Second, St. Mark says Jesus gave them authority – the Greek term used here is ‘exousian’ which literally means ‘from his own being’. In other words, Jesus didn’t just give them authority to act as His representative. He gave them authority to act in His very person. He gave them Himself – from His own being.

This is why the priesthood matters … and in this diocese, those who have been ordained who have NOT lived up this mission… to their dignity as priests … who have caused so much hurt to us, the faithful … they have damaged our understanding of the priesthood, who the priest is and His mission … the priest is as the Latin phrase puts it: an ‘alter Christus’ – another Christ – with all his own human faults and failings, yet the grace of ordination gets into the soul of a man ordained and he becomes ‘another Christ’ – Jesus breathes into a man ‘His own being’ … The mission of the priest is the mission of the Church – which is the very mission of Christ. And this mission is one that runs headlong into the belly of the beast … into the darkness of the world in order to free those trapped in it, paralyzed by sin, in need of comfort, healing and mercy … this is a mission that saves souls… That is the priesthood.

Who would want to be a priest today? How about a man who wants to restore the rightful image and understanding of who the priest really is … of the dignity of the priesthood here and in the Church universal? Who would want to be a priest today? How about a man on a mission from God – to be the extension of Christ’s mission of reconciliation and healing …

Friends … the Church is on fire and we need good men to rise up from our congregations, from our parishes, who are willing to run into the flames – not just to restore a damaged image of the priesthood … but because souls are stake and its time we did something about it… I did – this was one of the reasons why I entered seminary … Jesus called me to Himself and set me on mission … and today He is out looking for the next guys to do the same. We, as the faithful of this diocese, need to help these men hear God’s voice, we need to lend our own voices of encouragement to those discerning a calling to the priesthood, we must not be afraid to be steadfast in our Catholic faith and look for the next generation of priests that will bring healing to those in need.

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