In reflecting upon our ministry as priests as this Year for Priests draws to a close, it occurs to me that there are two different worlds out there. One is the world of “what if?” and the other is the world of “what is”. One is the world of tomorrow. The other is the world today. We need both, for tomorrow is the future, but our priestly ministry is to the world of “what is”, the world of today. It is our choice. It is our calling.
In the imitation of Christ a priest is called to be for others…from the least to the greatest. To be a priest is to bring the healing and forgiving love of Jesus to the world of what is. It is to work to mitigate the misery, the grief, the sorrow and desolation that haunts so many. It is to dispel the gloom by flooding it with the light of the Gospel. It is to lead the doubter to faith, the dispirited to hope and to the marginalized to love.
Because he is for others, a priest cannot be separated from his people. He brings the love of Jesus to them in Word and Sacrament; they in turn immerse him in the love of Jesus in the Body. This is especially true today when the actions of a few have brought vilification upon the many.
To live in the world of “what if?” is a constant siren call. When this is changed, when that is different, when we get a new pastor, when we get a new bishop…when the Church is what I think it should be, then I will be able to minister the way I should. That world does not exist…at least for now.
Priestly ministry is to the church today, with all its weaknesses and all its glories.
The Diocese of Dallas has been abundantly blessed with good, holy, dedicated and faithful priests; men of God and men for others. I am honored to serve them as bishop.
Your priest’s ministry will not end when the Year for Priests closes, nor will the need for priests. As long as there is need for the healing and forgiving love of Jesus, as long as there is the darkness of grief, sorrow and desolation in need of the light of Christ, as long as there is need for Word and Sacrament, there will always be the need for priests.
Join me in prayerful thanksgiving for these men who have dedicated their lives to service of and in the Church of Dallas.