The longer I remain a priest, the more I appreciate the priesthood and ironically not for all of the reasons I might have suspected years ago. As we conclude this Year for Priests, allow me to tell you a bit about my own experience as a way of revealing something most important about the Church to which we belong.
The fact is, I have grown into my vocation and, as the years have passed, I've come to find hidden riches. I suspect this phenomenon is true of marriage and religious life as well as priesthood. I do hope that, in 25 years or so, if I'm still around, I will have uncovered many more hidden treasures about being a disciple of Jesus, a Catholic and a priest. It is nice to be surprised by life and our God truly is a God of surprises!
How fortunate I consider myself and how excited I remain to be a priest. If you are reading these words and have ever considered whether God is calling you to be a priest, I definitely would give it a second and third thought. Honestly, many days I feel as if I was just ordained with new challenges always before me.
Actually, one of my favorite things to do as a priest is to distribute Holy Communion in the parish. It is for me a distinct honor to give such a great Gift to such good people and by the grace of God to make them rich! When people come up to Communion there is an amazing interaction. You can sense the struggle on people’s faces as well as the joy in this privileged moment of contact with the divine. From one poor person to another we share the living God and together we become even richer in Faith! Saint James in his letter asks: "Did not God choose the poor in this world to be rich in Faith?" It really is true: those who are rich in Faith are the richest people indeed!
It is one of the many incredible privileges of a priest to get to know many people at a very deep level, all the while remaining dedicated to all and no one person or small group in particular. In this capacity one sees the poverty of the human condition, the frailty that happily afflicts each one of us. And in this, one comes to recognize the need for God.
As we near the conclusion of this year honoring the Priesthood, what a distinct honor it is for you and me to know Jesus Christ. We know Him by Faith; not by sight. If we see Him with our human eyes anywhere, it is in one another. If you were asked Who Jesus is, you would hopefully respond with great enthusiasm: "He is the Christ, the Son of the living God." And that sure belief is what makes us blessed beyond belief!
God has given you and has given me many things and people and memories. But these pale in comparison next to our Faith in the One Who has saved us and called us to be everything that we were created to be.