“You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek…” The eternal nature of our priesthood is rooted in our High Priest, Jesus Christ. Just as Christ treated His mission as part of His father’s eternal, Christian priesthood can only be eternal. Eternal love is self-giving and self-sacrificing, like the sacrifice of His own Son on the cross. The prophet Isaiah described this love in these words: “Does a woman forget her baby at the breast or fail to cherish the son of her womb? Yet even if these forget, I will never forget you…” (Isaiah 49:15) Self-giving love means without conditions, without terms like in a contract.
In a youth gathering, Pope John Paul II challenged our young people… “You feel conscious of your inadequacies. But what I say to you is this: put yourself in the hands of Jesus. He will accept you and bless you beyond your greatest expectations.” As a priestly community, we have to be ready to put ourselves in the hands of our High Priest, to be self-giving and self-sacrificing. When we put ourselves in the hands of Jesus, He will put himself in our hands. And then things beyond our expectations happen… In the gospels, we see the abundance of self-giving on the part of Jesus Himself. Moved by compassion, he puts aside his own needs to minister to the hungry crowds, hungry not only for the Word of God but for real food as well.
His life is about being shared and broken for others without conditions. Every time we break the Word and share the bread in the Eucharist, we hear the words “Do this in memory of Me!”. The real challenge Jesus puts before us is the call to share with others, not only our own bread but our very selves. We have to encounter one another on behalf of Christ who works miracles in our midst
May our celebration of my forty years of priestly ministry be a testament of our growing appreciation of Christ’s gift of priesthood in our midst. May God continue to bless the efforts of our priestly community “to bring the good news to the poor… to set free the oppressed and announce the time of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19) And may God bless our families and our children and choose from our homes those whom He desires for His holy work.