Sunday, July 23, 2006

See Him, not me (Sunday homily)

A few minutes ago, you heard
what the Lord has to say to pastors:
Woe to the shepherds
who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture.

The Lord Jesus is the only truly good shepherd;
the rest of us try, for better or worse, to point to him.

Of course, it helps if we, pastors, follow Him.
I am trying; but I am a sinner.
Pray for me, please. I know you do; thank you.

Also, I am aware that in recent years,
some priests and some bishops

have let down God’s flock;
on their behalf, I apologize.

It is not easy to be a shepherd of souls:
Aside from the obvious temptations
that all men are prey to,

there are the subtle ones:
“I know best”;

“I deserve it, because I work so hard”;
“That’s good enough.”

But if anyone here

is thinking about the priesthood,
certainly don’t be overwhelmed!

For one thing,

there is such a great joy in being a priest—
precisely because of what St. Paul,
who was a priest, said in the second reading:
“In Christ Jesus you who once were far off
have become near by the blood of Christ.”

Through his Cross,

Jesus reconciled God and humanity;
and that is what a priest’s whole life is all about:
bringing those “once far off” near to Christ!

I don’t mind the challenges of being a priest.

I imagine a father must burst with joy
when he sees his newborn child;
how do you suppose I feel

when I baptize someone?
When I lead someone to faith?
When I help someone

return to his or her faith?

You visit someone in the hospital,
and bring the peace only Jesus can bring,
and it’s all worth it;

You sit in the confessional,
And help someone find his or her way back to Jesus,
After wandering in the wilderness for many years—
And there’s nothing to beat that.

Watch children grow, not only physically,
but also in their faith, and what pride to say,
“I had a hand in that!”

Yes, it can be hard to be a priest—
well, it’s hard to be anything,
unless you don’t mind being mediocre at it—
but, oh, it’s worth it!

And the Lord knows what he’s working with!

You heard in the Gospel
how our Lord brought his Apostles—

his first priests—back together.
They were overjoyed
at all they’d helped make happen in his Name.
But he could see they were tired, too.
And he knew, better than anyone, all their limits!

He chose them, all the same.

One thing comes through—
for us priests, and I hope for you.

If we have any wisdom at all,
we know who really makes it happen:

Jesus Christ!

I really hope you know that!
When I stand at the altar,
Yes, that bread and wine is transformed—
It is a miracle, and it becomes Jesus himself!—
But it is not I who does it.

You see me, but it is Jesus here;
You hear my voice, but Jesus speaks the words,
his own words, and he makes it happen.

Honestly? I don’t have enough faith for this moment:
When I hold bread the wine,
and then it becomes His Body and Blood,
I believe it; but not nearly enough.
How can I remain standing?
How can I not fall on my face for my own sins?

It is not my faith that makes it happen,
But his Love—he is the shepherd,
He is the Bridegroom, who is faithful to his Church.
So for all the honor and awe of being his priest,
which I feel, and I need to recall as often as I can,
I ask you, I beg you:
Don’t see me! See him!


Tracy said...

Once again, it's wonderful to see you encourage considering the call to priesthood. I read this with my son (9) so he could witness someone really loving and living his vocation. He said, "Cool!" When I asked him what was cool he said he like it all, but this was his favorite: "For one thing, there is such a great joy in being a priest— precisely because of what St. Paul,who was a priest, said in the second reading:“In Christ Jesus you who once were far off have become near by the blood of Christ.”

Thanks for being an example of someone who is living the light!

God Bless,

Father Cory Sticha said...

Father Fox,

Thank you for the excellent homily on the priesthood. As a seminarian, sometimes the call seems to overwhelming, but you make it clear that it's not about me, but about Jesus. Let him take care of it!

God bless,
Cory Sticha

Anonymous said...

Hi Father Martin,

Wow! A wonderful homily about the priesthood -- so true, it's all about Him! Thanks so much. Hope you are keeping as cool as possible in the heat. God bless,
Pat Gonzalez

Anonymous said...

Dear Fr. Fox,

It's FABULOUS!! While I like actionable items being made very clear (though that doesn't mean lock step - this and only this) this homily is one of your finest. Talking about the joy and awe of the priesthood and the Eucharist. This joy and awe is true for all of us and often, in our every day busy lives, we don't see it or think about it.

When I think about the Eucharist, I am in awe of the goodness and love of what Jesus gave us. And when I think about the priesthood, I am in awe of men, like you, who have said yes to Christ and His Church; have accepted the responsibility, the loneliness, and the sacrifice of this choice (and yes, the joy and wonder too!) - I am overwhelmed by the love.

And this completely explains why when priests don't do the right thing and/or bishops don't expect and demand them to do the right thing - in liturgy, in manliness, in preaching the hard truth, etc. the laity are UP IN ARMS and they are ANGRY. Even the media does it. Yes, to some extent it's their bias, but underneath, everyone is more revolted by a priest not doing the right thing. Somewhere in there, even if we can't explain it in words or agree with it outloud if it was explained - that TRUTH still comes out. Hence - we need to pray for our fathers and for more fathers. We need to love them, cut them slack on the not really important stuff, help them and encourage them and, of course, pray unceasingly for them.

My favorite phrase about of the priest - the Living Icon of the Eternal Priesthood of Jesus Christ!

I hope all the comments about your homilies - which really are very good - let you know how much you are appreciated.

God Bless and Know that you are in our prayers.