Monday, April 21, 2008
This evening/morning in the first reading we heard about the seven reputable men to be chosen to serve and of course this was the first group of men that were ordained to the order of deacon. As we heard about this reading it should remind us that Jesus didn’t keep his priesthood all to himself but instead he ordained his Twelve Apostles to be his priests, to share in his unique priesthood, maintaining for all time that true bridge between God and mankind through the sacrifice of the Eucharist and the rest of the sacraments. And the Apostles in turn ordained other priests as they founded new Christian communities.
In this way, every Christian community had guaranteed access to the one, true bridge, Jesus Christ. Not just symbolic access, but real access, through the sacraments. When an ordained minister celebrates the sacraments, it is Christ himself who celebrates them through that minister. That's how he keeps the bridge open and the traffic of grace coming through it.
It must not stop there my dear brothers and sisters but to realize that every Christian, through baptism, becomes connected to Christ in a real, sacramental way. Baptism gives us a share in Christ's own life; it plugs us into the divine current. And so, every Christian shares in his divine nature, without losing our human nature. But if that's the case, then every Christian can act as a bridge between God and the world. And that is what the Church calls the common priesthood of all the faithful.
As St. Thomas asked, “Master we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way? Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” My brothers and sisters as we celebrated Good Shepherd Sunday last week we have to come to the realization there is only one way, one truth and one life. To know that even in the midst of confusion, of pain, of anger, of illness to always know and take comfort in our Risen Lord who gave us a bridge (a means of being in contact with him) and this encounter with Christ which is made real through the sacraments becomes for us the way, the truth and the life.
In the second reading St. Peter like St. John speaks about our relationship with God in Christ, but in this description he uses a different image. The image he uses of God is not a dwelling made of stone but a dwelling that is spiritual and its stones are living. We are that “chosen and precious in the sight of God” as we heard in this reading.
In the Gospel we hear about “many dwelling places.” We connect this with the second reading because of us being those living stones, which become many then it is to realize that we are the risen Jesus for each other. This becomes the astounding message of Jesus that we ourselves are the living, risen Jesus! Jesus admonishes us to do the “works that I do.” The first work is to open ourselves to God’s indwelling—everything else depends on this.
So my brothers and sisters we truly are, then, a "royal priesthood." We are messengers and ambassadors of the eternal King, who is also the true High Priest. Each one of us is a path of light and grace reaching into a corner of the world - our life - that is unlike anyone else's corner. Our mission in life is to bring others to the bridge, to the sacraments, to a relationship with the saving King, the High Priest of all creation. Our mission is to bring Christ's grace into the lives of those who are still lost in the wilderness of fear, sin, and ignorance, who are searching for the bridge. And so, we are all priests of Christ, insofar as we are sharers in his bridge-building mission to the fallen world. When he comes to us today in Holy Communion, let's renew our awareness of this noble mission, and let's renew our commitment to carry it out with courage, determination, and love.