Anniversary Of Pope Michaels Priestly Ordination -2021
True story concerning the ordination to the priesthood, of some young seminarians: Many questions arose around the table of Priest and Teachers of a seminary who were having a discussion about those who may or may not be ready for ordination.
How were they as students, How were their grades? Are they good in relationships? Are they good in public speaking? Are they on time for the prayers? Can they relate with the other seminarians well? How are they when they play basketball? What are the best qualities that will qualify them for the priesthood? And then it dawned on the Bishop at the table that all the questions were about the seminarians strengths. The Bishop came to understand that the question needed to be asked was not what were their strengths but what were their weaknesses?
Were they weak enough to become priests?
In 1 Peter 2:9 Saint Peter writes, “But you are a chosen generation, a kingly priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people”.
Because of time I can not go in to depth to explain the difference between the ministerial priesthood and the common priesthood, but I mention it to say this. All of us, whether the ordained priest behind the collar, or the common priest, the lay people behind the work clothes, All of us need to ask the same question that the Bishop asked about the seminarian. Are we weak enough to be of the Royal priesthood mentioned in I Peter 2:9? Are we weak enough to be a part of the ministerial priesthood? Are you weak enough to be a part of the Royal, the kingly, the common priesthood?
Its so important for all of us to understand, We need to be weak in order to be priests. Because sometimes our own strengths become obstacles for the grace of God to be shown in our lives. Are you weak enough so that the power of Christ can truly shine through you? Because if you are too intelligent, or you are very good at public relations, or in your mind you are so good looking that you become an obstacle for being reminded of the beauty of God, then the power of the Christ spirit can not shine through.
God is not looking for Supermen. God is not looking for super seminarians. God is looking for weak seminarians in whom the power, and the strength of God can truly shine.
All of us were called when we were weak, you were called when you were ugliest. You were called when you were at your worst. You were called when you were at your lowest.
This morning do not dare to boast, because you were called because of your weaknesses. Those weaknesses made you even more lovable before the Lord. Where sin abounds, when our weakness abounds, grace abounds all the more.
Are you weak enough to be priests? Are you weak enough to rely solely on the grace of God. Are you weak enough to depend only on the mercy of God?
God wants you to acknowledge your weakness. Because all your strengths, all your education, all the good things people say about you. All of that are gifts from the Lord. But your weakness, is totally yours. And your weakness is your gift to the Lord.
The second question to ask those of us who are called to the ministerial priesthood and all of those who are called to the kingly priesthood is this, Are we holy? Are we pious? Are we men and women of integrity? How is our character? How are we when no one is watching? Are we men and women of character? Are we men and women of integrity? In other words, is there no discrepancy between our public life and our private life? Is there no discrepancy between how we are alone and how we are in community. That is integrity, that is wholeness.
God is not looking for angels. God is looking for men who can be a part of the ministerial priesthood and men and women who desire to be part of the common priesthood, the kingly priesthood. And therefore, my second question to ask is, are you broken enough to be a priest?
Do you have in your life a life of brokenous?
Broken in such away that God can make you holy? Because if there is not enough brokenness, that is, not enough participation in the passion, in the dying of the Lord, God can not use you as he would.
Growing spiritually in the Christian life is an exercise a formation in breaking and breaking and breaking until you are crushed. And when you are crushed, God will put you back. But this time, it will be a beautiful mosaic so that you can become life givers for others.
Every time, we as part of the ministerial priesthood, break the bread at mass, We must be careful. We must be careful with the breaking of the bread, because we are breaking the body of the Lord. And if you break the body of the Lord, you also are asking the Lord, "Lord please break me." I give you permission to break my body.
Sometimes that braking can come from our own foolishness, from the stupidity of sin or playing with fire, or dancing with temptations. Each and everyone of us when we do these things, we will hurt our self, and we will hurt the Church.
That braking can come from the hands of others, our enemies, those who said that they were with us but have walked away. Those who said they loved us, but left in the heat of the battle.
But most of all that breaking can come from the Lord. Do not run away. Do not shield yourself from it because the breaking that comes from the Lord can only make you holier priests. There is no holiness without breaking. There is no holiness without a willingness to be broken, like the body of the Lord. If they crucify you say, "thank you for giving me an opportunity to die like the Lord. If they gossip about you, if they ignore you, if they take you for granted, if they utter maliciously false statements or make false accusations against you, respond with a prayer of Thanksgiving. Because when they break you, you share in the breaking of the body of the Lord. That is your path to holiness. Are you weak enough to be priests?
Have you been broken enough to be of service to God?
Your faith will be shaken. You are now priests of a Christianity that tends toward hypocrisy. You will be seen as part of those called Catholic that, seems to encourage priest who are living a homosexual life style.
Another question to ask is are you brave enough to hurdle the storms, are you brave enough to defend the faith? Or are you afraid? Are you a coward? God is looking for brave men and women. He is looking for courageous men and women to stand up for the faith, to be spiritual, mental and physical martyrs for Him.
But then we must ask ourselves, is it only bravery that we need? Is it only courage that we need?
My 3rd question to all of of us who are part of the ministerial priesthood and to all of us who are part the of the Kingly priesthood, the common priesthood is this...
Are you afraid enough to be a good priest?
You must be courageous against error, but you must be afraid of sin. You must be brave to stand up for the Lord, but you must be a coward to be separated from him.
In other words, in the priesthood, there is no such a thing, as no fear. You must be afraid. You must be sufficiently afraid. You must be afraid of hypocrisy. You must be afraid of celebrating the mass in sacrilege. You must be afraid of lying. You must be afraid of lusts. You must be afraid of abusing your sexuality. You must be afraid of stealing money from the church. You must be afraid of stealing money from the people. You must be afraid of comfort. You must be afraid of convenience, because all of these distract you from your real vocation. You may receive a lot of money. You may receive a lot of food. You may receive a lot of clapping, but be afraid to be celebrities. Be afraid of sin. Be afraid of looking for applause from people.
Look for the smile of the Lord. Search for the smile of the Lord in everything that you do, be afraid to lose him because when you lose him, you are lost. If you have lost the Lord in your life, you are lost.
Every day at holy communion, the silent prayer before the mass, before receiving communion, we say to the Lord, "Lord never allow me to be separated from you." Be afraid of that. Do not be afraid of death. Do not be afraid of sickness and old age. Be afraid only to be separated from the Lord.
Are you weak enough to be priests are you broken enough to be priests? Are you afraid enough to be priests?
When Jesus said, "come follow me", he actually meant, "come and die with me." Every moment of your life should be a daily dying. When we participate in the breaking of the bread, say to the Lord, "break me too. When you are confronted with your weakness, say to the Lord, "Lord strengthen me." When you are afraid to go on, say to the Lord, "Lord, do not ever allow me to be separated from you."
Pope Michael did not start the Christian life as a Priest or as the Pope. He was not baptized with a fishermens' ring on his finger. God knew his weaknesses. God knew that he was a fallen broken person. God knew his fears. God knows him more than he knows himself. And the beauty of it all is, even though God knows him inside and out, He still called him.
And that is the way it is for all of us who are in the common priesthood, the kingly priesthood that Saint Peter speaks of in I Peter 2:9.
God knows our weaknesses. God knows that we are a fallen broken people. God knows our fears. God knows us more than we know ourselves. And yet He stilled called us to be “a chosen generation, a kingly priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people .” Why? “That we may proclaim the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.”