Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
The priest’s ministry
Every high priest is taken from among men and made their representative before God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal patiently with the ignorant and erring, for he himself is beset by weakness and so, for this reason, must make sin offerings for himself as well as for the people. No one takes this honor upon himself but only when called by God, just as Aaron was. In the same way, it was not Christ who glorified himself in becoming high priest, but rather the one who said to him: “You are my son; this day I have begotten you”; just as he says in another place: “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” Heb 5,1-6
To understand the figure and the priestly ministry in the history of the salvation we must first understand what the creative strategy of God has been from the beginning and still is. God created the world and entrusted it to the man to continue his creative act. To this purpose, God created the Family, the first institution directly originated out of his hands. Then, to recover the man fell into the sin, God has put in place the history of the Salvation accomplished by his son, Jesus of Nazareth, who established the Church, because this had to continue in his name and on his behalf the saving act of God. During the elapsing of the time the Church, inspired by Jesus Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit, has been given an organization, in which the figure of the priest is a key one. He, as the today’s passage by Paul mentions, is a man like others, with strengths and weaknesses like everyone, but becoming a special one, because “is taken from among men and made their representative before God”. He is, therefore, chosen from among the men and sent to the men to exercise in the name of God the same ministries which have been practiced by Jesus Christ on the earth: the proclamation of the Word, the sacraments and the pastoral ministry to gather the community of the believers. In the Church, for his role, the priest can do a great good. We need good priests, holy priests, and we, as lay people, have four ways to help them to be as such: to accompany them with the prayer, to love them, to assist them in their ministry and to forgive their weaknesses, because we should not forget that the priest was “taken from among men” but he is a man. In our family, we have been privileged to have, as spiritual guides, some good priests. Let’s listen to the passage of a letter which father Vittorio Moretto, a combonian missionary, sent us a few years ago: “Usually we say that couples and families who follow a path of faith need the help of a priest. Very true, my twenty-six years of priestly life and missionary confirm me that we, as priests and missionaries, need to be “accompanied” by the couples and the christian families. From the theological point of view this concept is clear. Indeed, by definition, the priestly ministry is a function of the ecclesial body; and how to help and serve this body if it does not enter in the ministries of God through the knowledge and the love? The evangelical service to the families requires that we are helped by an emotional relationship with these families, so ‘that we are privileged to live with joy our choice and our service, feeling surrounded by the love of married couples and of entire families’ ” .