Friday, July 17, 2009

Homily / Sermon for 16th Sunday of the Year

You must come away to some lonely place all by yourselves and rest for a while. (Mark 6:31)

Ask any priest - when does the phone ring and when is there a knock at the door? Just at that moment when he has sat down for a meal, or curled up in the armchair to read or for a brief snooze.

It can be a difficult and demanding life. A priest lives over the shop: everyone knows where to find him. While the Doctor or the Counsellor or the teacher can clock off and go home, people can call at any hour the day or night on the priest. His address and his phone number are never confidential, they are always public. It can be a life surrounded by people, and yet also a very lonely life, in a very large house with his microwave meals.

And of course there are priests who struggle, priests who fall sick, priests who become frustrated or dejected or angry. As a bishop once said to me ‘Most people go to Church in spite of the priest, not because of him’. Some priests are popular, but no one can please everyone. Some priests think there are only two ways of doing something: ‘My Way, and the Wrong Way’, while others lack confidence even in their own obvious abilities. It all comes down to this - priests are human, we are sinners, earthen vessels, flawed and imperfect.

And yet, they are chosen. In this Year of Priests, do not be disappointed that so many are imperfect, but praise God that he takes his unworthy servants and makes them his presence in the world, the bearers of his grace.

Like the crowd in the Gospel, who seek Christ and the apostles, who are like sheep without a shepherd, God’s people have a great need, for the teaching of the faith and the gifts of grace which come through the sacraments. Pray for Your Priest. Pray for all priests. Pray for more priests.

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