Last Sunday to prepare ourselves for the coming ordination in our parish we made a special reflection material on the priesthood to be reflected upon, prayed over with and shared. It included one’s personal experiences with priests, good and bad, our dreams and expectations from them and what we could do as lay people to help them live their role as servant leaders of the community.
The reflections which our faith sharing groups in the barangays have shared was enlightening and I read each one of them. There were instances were I am saddened by what I read, sometimes encouraged or sometimes just simply amused. I have read many books about the priesthood written by popes, theologians, mystics and the so called experts on the field for my personal growth as a priest. But it never hit me the same way as it hit me when I read the priesthood viewed from below, written by the very people for whom the priest is after all called to serve. It is simple, practical and direct to the point, devoid of theological concepts which could make our minds at times leery and all the more confused. Last issue we presented some of their views and I am planning to put all of them on file, read them again and again and reflect on them and share them especially with our new priest.
Preparing this issue has been a kind of a retreat for me as I reflect once more on the ideals of the priesthood and the priesthood that I am living at the moment. What I have seen made me humble or should I say humiliated me. Indeed there were times these past few days when I would ask the Lord why he chose us as I search my mind once more trying to fathom the mystery of the call. But the more I think of it the more I could not understand. His words to Isaiah rings true for me today and to you who may wonder why God chose him and not the other - “as far as the heavens is from the earth, so far are my ways above your ways.”
However as I lived the priesthood and saw and are ever exposed to the weaknesses of the man to whom this gift was entrusted, I am lead to affirm the fact that God chose us because he is humble. He is humble in his selection of the men who will lead his church and he is risking himself to be humiliated every time he chose another. Indeed every time we priests fail to live up to our calling we do not only scandalize our people but we also humiliate God. Looking at our work today, I would say that if God is not God I believe he would quickly disassociate himself from us or fire us as he did to that dishonest servant in the gospel. But God never gives up on us because he is humble. And every time somebody steps up to the altar to be ordained, God once more risks himself to be humiliated and just the same he never gives up hope and he never stops calling.
I believe that this is not the only “defeat” God has suffered, for from the time of creation to the time of redemption and until now everything that he does seem to fall into failure because of us whom He created. Maybe the one divine characteristic he is trying to hammer upon us in this utter failure is His mercy - we are born, we live, we die, we attain redemption, and we obtain heaven because of his mercy. And this is what he is asking from us too and in the way we look at the priest - mercy. Look at it with His on eyes and have mercy.