REFLECTING ON THE CATHOLIC MINISTERIAL PRIESTHOOD!
WHO IS A CATHOLIC PRIEST?
(A SHORT REFLECTION TO COMMEMORATE FIVE YEARS OF FRUITFUL SERVICE IN THE LORD’S VINEYARD.)
To many Catholic Christians, the Priest means various things. To some, he is just someone that celebrates Mass and hears confession and administers the sacraments when needed; To others, he is a man who has decided not to marry in order to serve God faithfully and without family ties and distractions; To some, he is an embodiment of divine mandate, a dispenser of grace and a mediator between God and Man. In all, a Priest means different things to different people, but who is really a Priest?
Was once a crying baby who was carried and breastfed and nurtured and cared for by his parents/guardians.
Was once a child who grew up in the family/society like every other child and depended so much on the cares of his family and relations.
Was once a teen who flowed with the current and adhered to peer influence, doing what others were doing and enjoying his teen years.
Was once overwhelmed by the pressure that comes with adolescence and had to choose between a good and bad lifestyle.
Is a son to his parents; a brother to his siblings; a nephew to his uncles and aunts and a friend to his dear ones.
Is a human with flesh and bones, feelings and emotions as well as weaknesses and strengths.
Is a man who chose to be in the service of God and humanity and left all the pleasures of adulthood just to embrace the sanctification of men and women and devotes himself everyday to a lifetime of divine and ecclesial servitude.
Is a minister of the Word and Sacrament; fighting and conquering the demons that threaten the peace and serenity of the children of God and himself and makes efforts daily to be in right standing with God.
Is a shepherd of souls, a spiritual and physical leader who is willing to lay down his life like his Master Jesus Christ for the Sheep entrusted to His care.
Is a dispenser of God’s mercies to humanity; a joy and consolation and salvation giver to the dying and the balm of health unto the sick and the infirm.
Is a man who brings down God everyday and feeds the people with God in the Eucharist – the Bread of Life.
Is one who acts in persona Christi capitis (in the person of Christ the Head), in nomine ecclesiae (in the name of the Church).
In the words of Fulton J. Sheen; “A Priest is not his own.” But who owns the priest? The Priest belongs to all with no restrictions to any particular individual. He is called to a vocation of love and humility. He is a Servant and a Leader. He is a Man but carries out divine missions.
On a daily basis, he is accused and acquitted; condemned and justified; tempted and victorious; criticized and defended; loved and hated; ignored and needed; calumnized and praised; broken and put together.
He is in the world, but he is out of the world and he lives already the life of resurrection. He is the only man in the world with the mandate to forgive sins and make God walk among Men in the Eucharist.
He continues the mission of Christ on earth.
He is not an angel nor a super-human nor a spirit, nor extra-terrestrial. He feels pain and joy and is vulnerable too.
He is ordained and chosen from among men and made their representative before God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins (Hebrews 5: 1); He never took the honor upon himself but was by God just as Aaron was. (Hebrews 5:4).
We need Priests, human priests, holy priests, dedicated and intelligent priests. They can be discouraged; be their source of encouragement. They cry too; wipe their tears. They have needs too; be available for them. They make mistakes too; do not condemn them. They pray for you; pray also for them. Be a source of strength and courage to them. Do not neglect them; they need you.
Imagine a world without Priests. May God bless our priests. Please always pray and support them. Without you, their ministry is void.
I am a Priest and I am glad to serve you in the Church and in the world. I am one of you! I love you. I need you as much as you need me. God bless you.
REV. FR. EMMANUEL EMEKA EKWELUM MSSCC