One who celebrates the life of Jesus
This is the very heart of the call to priesthood. Aware of his own unworthiness, the priest is a man who joyfully walks in the footsteps of Christ. He bears the teaching of Jesus and through his own example, images to others, God’s call to a life of holiness.
The celebration of Mass best exemplifies this role. After preaching the Good News, the priest becomes the fragile instrument that makes Christ truly present in His fullness in the Eucharist. The priest is the catalyst of the faith of the Church bringing forth new life.
One who reconciles the sinner to Christ and his Church
It is the Christian, conscious of this sinfulness and needful of God’s mercy who can witness most eloquently to what a priest can mean for a person in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Broken, humbled, a Christian in need of healing turns to Christ’s minister for the tenderness and forgiveness he or she desperately needs.
The priest is a compassionate listener who is in touch with his own need for God. He offers to others God’s own forgiveness. As the ordained representative of the Church, he is empowered to forgive sins in the name of God and the Christian Community.
Many an anguished person has felt the healing of God’s love in confession. Unable to open up to anyone, they can, by mystery of the priesthood, reach out to Christ.
One who teaches the way of Christ
Jesus was most commonly called Rabbi or “Teacher”. The priest is also called to be a teacher. And just as Christ taught all ages the truth of God’s love, so the priest is in touch with children, teenagers, young adults, single people, married couples, senior citizens—the whole spectrum of humankind. No race, no ethnic group, no human being is excluded. The priest exemplifies Christ’s individual, undivided, and universal love for all.
As a result of years of study in the seminary and his own ever-deepening life of prayer, the priest is imbued with the teaching of Jesus. He brings this teaching of how to live life to all people.
One who brings God’s healing to the broken
The pain of living and dying is very often all too visible and all to paralyzing. Very often, the priest’s words and his caring, are all that stand between pain and the person. In the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, the priest prays with the community for the individual’s healing and peace. The priest is a familiar presence in hospitals, nursing homes, prisons—wherever there is loneliness and pain.
Very often he embodies in a profound way the compassion of God. Having felt Christ’s love deeply, he becomes a wounded healer for others.
One who celebrates the most important events of a person’s life
It seems that whenever anything significant is happening in a person’s life, the priest is there—always at the heart of life and at the pulse of the human family.
Whether it is joyfully welcoming a new Christian into God’s Church, or witnessing the Lord’s covenant of love in the Sacrament of Matrimony, the priest is present.
The people he serves become his spouse, nurturing him, challenging him, ever humanizing him.
One who fights for justice side by side with God’s people
So much of the evil around us is occasioned by human hands: the slaughter of the unborn person, the dehumanization of poverty, the institutionalization of violence, the opium of consumerism, the cancer of prejudice. All these threaten our world and our very existence.
As Christians we are called to fight oppression and evil with the Gospel of love. The priest as proclaimer of this Gospel stands side by side in solidarity with the people of God and often acts as a prophetic voice urging society as well of the Church to involvement. He challenges the forces of apathy and indifference.