Monday, August 08, 2011

Thoughts on the priesthood

This Is No Job!

The priesthood for me is not a job, nor is it even a profession. The priesthood is a way of life. Just being a Christian is a way of life, although even as I use that word, I find that it sticks in my throat like a bird's feather. Christians have so sullied that word with bigotry and narrow minded hatred that I find it harder and harder to use it to describe what I want to say about the Way of Life.
We are on a journey and there is a way of living our way through that journey that brings us closer to God and to one another. The priesthood brings this way of life into sharper focus when it is doing what it is supposed to do. The journey toward the human heart, a journey that requires rigorous honesty and courage, also brings us closer to the heart of God. This is where heaven is, within us. And the more we come to the truth about ourselves, the more likely we'll meet God within as well. Thus we all become a lens through which we look into the heart of God. Here is where we can detect the heartbeat of God, when we listen very closely to the silence within, a silence that becomes a Presence. Don't be surprised when all you hear is silence when you pray. That's the first step toward the truth. Soon enough you will hear your own heart speak to you something of the truth. This is why I write, for it is in writing that I discover something I hadn't noticed before. The hand that takes up a pen to write does so with a Muse Who teaches, and speaks in surprising ways indeed.
As to the people who gather with their priest at the Altar of God, special gifts are exchanged between ourselves and God. In the gifts of bread and wine we may see through the eyes of faith the very being of Jesus. This feast then brings us so close to Jesus that it is as though his body and blood are actually present to us in the bread and wine we consume. It is only bread and wine, but so much more. In this bread and this wine my heart and the heart of Jesus become one. The chiefest fruit of that encounter is a way of life that overflows with love, forgiveness, and reconciliation. The scales fall from our eyes in this encounter and we see what it is to imitate Jesus. We see what it is to imitate God.
There is a way of life for all who would dare to call themselves "Christian" by name. That way of life is much more than a name, it is the way and the truth and the life itself of God. This priesthood is more than a priesthood prescribed in an ordination service. It is a priesthood of all believers gathered around a priest. Out of this wondrous encounter we respond to a cry for help, healing, forgiveness, reconciliation, peace. We become present to one another in ways we never dreamt possible. And we become present to God.
To be a priest thus is no job. It is a way of life. To be someone daring enough to call oneself a "Christian" is also to claim a way of life. In that way of life we find joy such as no other way can bring.
The early church taught that there are only two ways to live; the way that leads to life and the way that leads to death. Everyone is welcome to live with such joy that many will be brought to God through the radiance that faith brings to the human face, because it is in the human face that we see the likeness of God. And the likeness of God is not in an appearance. It is in a way of life.
Welcome to the priesthood of All Believers!
Fr. Paul

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