The readings all say something about the priesthood--so let’s start there.
What really is a priest about?
The essential thing is that a priest offers a sacrifice.
Melchizedek brought bread and wine.
The priests of the Old Testament offered lambs at Passover.
All that points to our Lord, who offered himself on the Cross.
And a Catholic priest? He offers the Sacrifice of the Mass,
In which the Cross becomes present here, for us;
In which bread and wine become the Lamb of God.
So then we come to the Gospel reading.
And the miracle here is really aimed first at the Apostles,
Who the Lord was preparing to be the priests of his new covenant.
When the Apostles said, it’s time to send people away for food,
Our Lord says, you give them some food yourselves!
Then, when they don’t know how to do that,
The Lord shows them where the power--where the life--comes from.
Something every priest needs to understand.
When I offer the Holy Mass, this isn’t about me.
Whether I’m cheerful or serious isn’t what matters.
My task is to show you Christ!
In baptism, each of us becomes part of Christ,
and so we each have a share in his priesthood.
So one of the things a priest must do is show you the priestly people
what that looks like--how you do it.
Let’s keep it simple. When I was a boy,
I learned a prayer called the “morning offering” from my father,
who prayed it every day. It goes like this:
“O Jesus through the immaculate heart of Mary,
I offer thee my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day,
In union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass,
For the salvation of souls, the reparation of sins,
The repose of the dead
and the intentions of the Holy Father this month.”
That simple prayer is a powerful spirituality.
And it answers how we live as a priestly people.
What do we bring to the Lord to transform?
Our work, our trials, our joys, our failures.
We might also think about who we bring to the Lord.
Family. Neighbors. Coworkers. Those people who annoy us!
You are here, now, and shortly I’ll offer the Sacrifice of Christ;
When you leave here, what will you take from here, to the world?
(At the 7 pm Mass:
At this Mass we will do something very special.
A young man, who will be married soon in our church,
was baptized but was never confirmed
and never received his first holy communion.
Today with the Archbishop’s blessing, I will confirm him
and he’ll receive the Lord’s Body and Blood the first time.
His fiance is his sponsor.
_____, confirmation is the anointing we receive
that seals us with the Holy Spirit,
and completes in us our sharing in the dignity of Jesus Christ,
our priest, our prophet and our king.
Recall what I just said: each of us has a share
in the work of Christ to consecrate our world to him.
Today is when you get kitted out with the fullness of the Holy Spirit,
and fed with the true Body and Blood of our Lord--
so that you have everything you need.)
Of course, it might be convenient if we only needed to come here once.
One time at Holy Mass. One time receiving the Eucharist.
But then, our Lord could also have said,
you only get to go to confession once.
It could have been that we’d get our one time--
and if we blow it, or miss it, well too bad for us.
It could have been that we’d only have one day of life!
Some people do only get a short moment of life; but most of us get more.
And the way we consecrate our lives, offering them to the Lord;
The way we make our difference, is not one-time-only, but day-by-day.