Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
“In the celebration of the Liturgy,” the introduction to the Lectionary for Mass tells us, “the word of God is not announced in only one way nor does it always stir the hearts of the hearers with the same efficacy. Always, however, Christ is present in his word, as he carries out the mystery of salvation, sanctifies humanity and offers the Father perfect worship.”
How evident that is this morning, as you gather for the first time to celebrate these sacred mysteries as a seminarian at Saint John’s Seminary. Through his word God speaks to you, directly and succinctly, as he will every time you come to this place to worship him in spirit and in truth.
Today Isaiah speaks of clothing a new disciple with the prophet’s robe and girding with his sash. This new prophet, he tells us, will receive the authority of a prophet and take Isaiah’s place. He will be called a father by all the inhabitants of Jerusalem and what he opens, no one will ever be able to shut and what he shuts, no one will ever open.
Isaiah is speaking in shadows of the same Priesthood which you suspect that God might be calling you to and which you come to this place to seek. Let him clothe you in this place with his peace, let him open your mind and your heart to everything that would lead others to him that you might learn to be called father by all the inhabitants of whatever Jerusalem he might choose to send you to.
Now a word of caution, not heard in the Gospel today, but I’m sure you caught it. In the next verse in Matthew’s beautiful account of Peter’s profound profession of faith, Jesus speaks of the cross, of suffering and of his Passion. And Peter, Prince of the Apostles and perfect professor of profound faith turns to the Lord and says, “God forbid that you should suffer and die!” AS you will recall, Jesus then looks the best of his Apostles squarely in the eye and says, “Get thee behind me Satan!”
God did not choose the best or the brightest to be his Apostles, and the same is true of the way chooses his priests. He chooses the weak, as the Preface to the Martyrs says…he chooses the weak and makes them strong in Christ.
It’s OK to be weak here…in fact its good to recognize the weak spots and let God make them strong. Trust. Suffering. Patient Endurance. Three of the best tools in the priest’s toolbox.
So here we are. We who have received or aspire to receive the power of the keys are as in need of repentance and mercy and being saved as anyone whom God has ever chosen
And the discernment and formation to which you today begin to commit yourself is as difficult a task as it is noble. But nothing, nothing can fill your heart with greater joy.