Thirthieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Priests are mystery men[1]. They come in assorted sizes, ages, weights and collars. They are found everywhere –speeding along, perspiring over, walking by, kneeling on, praying over, laughing with, preaching to, teaching about, pardoning for, and playing baseball with. Little children run to them; teenagers marvel at them, aged folk turn to them; lay people treasure them; non-Catholics stare at them; and Mary watches over them[2].

A priest is Prudence in a T-shirt; Fortitude with a breviary in his hand; Justice on a ball diamond; and Temperance at any party. He is Faith with a blueprint; Hope with a sense of humor; and Charity with a golf club in hand.

A priest may be anything from a contemplative monk in a monastery to a magazine editor on Wall Street, from a labor mediator to a TV personality, from a student to a professor. Formerly known as the boy-around-the-corner, he's a member of each family, yet belongs to none. He penetrates secrets, shares sorrows, and heals wounds. He has the trust of a child, the kindness of a best friend, the sternness of a tight-rope walker, the authority of an encyclopedia, the versatility of a commando, and the salesmanship of a Fuller-Brush man.

A priest is a humble creature –a mystifying worker at all professions. His hours are the longest; his salary the smallest; his Boss the best! He likes good pastors, the smiles of children, a good sermon, a home-cooked meal, and the name "Father".

A priest is all things to all men in the sight of God. He may be misquoted, mistaken and misunderstood, but he'll always forgive – because he's a mediator; a peacemaker, a go-between heaven and earth. It’s no wondering God loves him. He's a man standing at an altar, clothed in Holy clothes, who while being aware of his own nothingness speaks to God for us and to us for God. And although his greatest act is to offer sacrifice, his most consoling one is to say to me, "Go in peace – Your sins are forgiven." ■

[1] Sunday 26th October, 2008, 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Readings: Exodus 22:20-26. I love you, Lord, my strength Ps 17(18):2-4, 47, 51. 1 Thessalonians 1:5-10. Matthew 22:34-40. Priesthood Sunday, October 26, 2008, is a special day set aside to honor priesthood in the United States. It is a day to reflect upon and affirm the role of the priesthood in the life of the Church as a central one. In the wake of the clergy sex abuse scandal, there has been concern that the image of all priests has been tainted by the actions of a few. Priesthood Sunday sends a message to all that the sins of a few do not reflect the innocent majority, and that the parish priest, as the instrument of Christ's ministry on earth, is loved and respected by those in the parish community. This nationwide event is coordinated by the USA Council of Serra International. It is sponsored by the USA Council of Serra International and the Serra International Foundation.
[2] Cfr. What is a priest?, By Father Thomas E. Langer, Originally published by Open Sunday Visitor, March 13, 1960.

Ilustration: Andrés De Islas, Imposición de la casulla a San Ildefonso (1774) oil in canvas (82 x 63 cm) Museum Andrés Blaisten (México).

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris