Sunday, June 15, 2008

11th Sunday - homily

You might have heard the one about the Irishman named Muldoon who lived in the countryside for years with his best dog as his company. One day, the dog died. Muldoon went to talk to a priest, Father Patrick. He said, “Father, my dog has died. Could ya be sayin’ a Mass for the poor little creature?” Fr. Patrick said, “I’m afraid not. We don’t say Masses for animals in the Church. But, you can go down to the new denominational church down the street. We don’t really know what they do down there; maybe they can do a service for the little guy”. Muldoon said, “Ok, Father, I’ll go right away. Do you think $ 5, 000 is enough to donate for the service?” Fr. Patrick said, “Whoa, whoa…my man, Muldoon, why didn’t you say the dog was Catholic!”

We hear about priests in the readings today. In the first reading, God says to Moses that Israel will be a “kingdom of priests”. This applies to us as well – we are a kingdom of priests. Does this mean that we are all to wear black and call each other ‘Father’? No. It means that we all share in the priesthood of Jesus Christ. When each of us was baptized, we were anointed priests, prophets, and kings. St Peter confirms this in his first letter. The Church refers to this as the common priesthood which we all make up.

Why, then, do we only refer to certain men as priests? Men like Fr. Mike and me are ministerial priests. Ministerial priests serve the people of God, the common priesthood. We hear in today’s Gospel the first twelve men who Jesus calls to be ministerial priests. He has given them and their successors the role of continuing his ministry to all of God’s people. The question that always seem to arise is, ‘why can only men be priests’? When I am asked this question, I usually…change the subject (how ‘bout this weather, huh?)…!

When I hear the question of why can only men be priests, I give the same reason as to why only women can be pregnant: it’s a biological or physiological thing. God has created men and women differently because we have different roles. He gives certain women the role of bringing natural life into the world; He gives certain men the role of bringing supernatural life into the world. Neither men nor women are greater than the other; they are simply different than the other.

The heart of the priesthood is the celebration of the sacraments. Whenever a priest celebrates the sacraments, he acts “in personal Christi” (in the person of Christ). It is really Jesus who baptizes, consecrates the Eucharist, absolves sins, etc. In order for in persona Christi to happen, a male body is required because Jesus is a male priest with a masculine body. The proper matter is needed for all the sacraments to be celebrated; the same applies to the priest. Let me explain with one of the sacraments, the Eucharist.

Whenever we come to Mass, we see and hear the priest. But, it is really Jesus who is celebrating the Mass. We know this most especially at the consecration. The words are said, “this is my body…this is the cup of my blood”. The priest does not say, “this is his body…this is his blood”. We know it’s really Jesus saying those words. Even though we don’t see a change in the priest, a change has taken place. Even though we don’t see a change in the bread and wine, a change has taken place. It is called transubstantiation – the substance of the matter changes. This applies to the bread and wine as well as to the priest. Just like it is no longer bread and wine, it is no longer Fr. Greg or any priest – it is Jesus Christ.

The proper matter and form must be used with the sacraments. We can’t use potato chips and soda at the consecration. We can’t use oil at baptisms. We have to use what Jesus used and say what Jesus said. With the Eucharist, we have to use unleavened bread and wine made from natural grapes. We have to say the exact words he said – “this is my body”. And, the priest has to have a male body. If we don’t use the proper and form with regard to the Eucharist, then transubstantiation does not occur.

When we go deeper in understanding the priesthood of Jesus Christ, we see that it is an amazing reality! Jesus continues his ministry through the persons of his priests. He continues to bring the sacred ministries to us. He continues to baptize, consecrate the Eucharist, forgive sins, etc. through his priests.

He tells us in the Gospel to pray for more priests. He tells us to “ask the master of the harvest to send more laborers into the vineyard”. He is calling young men from St. Andrew’s to be priests…to be laborers in the vineyard. Some of them have heard the call and are taking steps to answer the call. Please pray for them. Pray that they answer the call generously, and that they minister to the next generations of God’s people. Pray that they will bring the Eucharist to our children’s children. Without priests, we would not have the sacraments. Without priests, we would not have the Eucharist.


At 12:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I thought for sure you would have changed the subject to "How 'bout those Redskins,huh?"...!

At 4:50 PM, Blogger fran said...

I thought this prayer was nice for Father's Day.

Lord God, loving father of us all, guide and instruct my husband in your ways that he may be a good earthly father to our children.
Help him to be wise and prudent in carrying out your designs for him as a father, and aid him that in all his ways his inspriation and example will direct our children's thoughts to you.
Grant him patience in carrying out the difficult and burdensome task of being a good father.
Teach him a strength and firmness that is tempered with gentleness and is never harsh or forbidding. Teach him to be kind without being yielding or indulgent.
Give him the understanding that a father should have - an understanding that will invite the confidence of his children.
Give him the cheerful strength that is so often needed in times of trial; and may his love for our children, and my love for him, sustain him in these times of stress.
Give him a childlike trust in you, and may that trust in you be rewarded by a mirroring of your fatherhood in him. And so may his children know an increase of joy and love as they are brought closer to you through him. Amen.

At 9:58 PM, Blogger CynthiaBC said...

Our 7-year-old daughter has been observing the primary election process, and apparently has gotten the message that she can be anything she wants. (She says if she's President she'll be a Republican.)

This evening after dinner she asserted that she could be Pope. We shared with her that Popes have to be 1. male and 2. Catholic.
"But it's NOT FAIR. Why can't I be a Lutheran Pope?"
"Oh, look at the time, sweetie! It's time for you to go upstairs to brush your teeth!"

Perhaps I'll direct her to ask her question of Fr G or Fr M...

At 1:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I’m part of a group of women who meet twice a week. I usually attend the mid-week group which is usually formatted as a loose discussion on spirituality. The Friday meeting is more structured, and today was the first time I’ve been to it. I’m not one for much structure, so expected to be looking at the clock and watching more than participating, which didn’t happen. To close the meeting, the group passed around a box twice. Since I hadn’t been to the meeting before, I had no idea what they were doing. The first time the box went around, anyone who needed to, wrote down a prayer request and placed in the box. When the box went around a second time, those who wanted to took home a prayer request to pray for that person. Someone later explained to me that no one discussed the prayers they put in or took out. The idea was that people could ask others to pray for them regarding things they’d rather not directly share. There’s a lot of trust in that process- both in others, but especially in faith, and most especially in the power of prayer. Next time- I’ll come prepared.


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