My Young Priests, Be Not Afraid!

THE NOW WORD ON MASS READINGS
for Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

Liturgical texts here

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AFTER Mass today, the words came strongly to me:

My young priests, do not be afraid! I have put you in place, like seeds scattered among fertile soil. Do not be afraid to preach My Name! Do not be afraid to speak the truth in love. Do not be afraid if My Word, through you, causes a sifting of your flock…

As I shared these thoughts over coffee with a courageous African priest this morning, he nodded his head. “Yes, we priests often want to please everyone rather than preach the truth… we have let the lay faithful down.”

It is true that, as a pastor—or a lay evangelist myself—we want to appeal to as many people as possible. And St. Peter tells us how:

…do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame. (1 Pet 3:16)

So whether by our words, or by our silent witness, we are sowing supernatural seeds in the hearts of even our detractors. Remember, it was not Christ’s ministry but His Passion that converted the Centurion.

But what has slowly evolved over the past several decades is a watering down of the Gospel, a muting of the moral teachings of the Church, and an obscuration of the entire raison d’être of the Church’s existence:

…the transmission of the Christian faith is the purpose of the new evangelization and of the entire evangelizing mission of the Church, which exists for this very reason. Moreover the expression “new evangelization” sheds light on the ever clearer awareness that countries with an ancient Christian tradition also need a renewed proclamation of the Gospel to lead them back to an encounter with Christ which truly transforms life and is not superficial, marked by routine. —POPE FRANCIS, Address to the 13th Ordinary Council of the General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, June 13th, 2013; vatican.va

But this New Evangelization in the West has been hampered by a political correctness that has often made the pulpit impotent, the sermon sterile.

The priest, more than anyone else in the Church, is configured to Jesus Christ through ordination. No one else, therefore, should be more configured to His ministry. Consider how the preaching of Jesus, though at first attracting thousands, soon became a scandal to his flock such that, by the end, only three people stood with Him beneath the Cross. May I so boldly repeat the words above to Christ’s beloved priests: don’t be afraid to lose members of your flock because you preach the undiluted Gospel, for Jesus did not come to bring peace, but the sword—that is, the living Word of God! [1]cf. Heb 4:12 Christ has ordained you to nourish and feed His lambs so that they in turn may give the “wool” of their lives to warm the hearts of those in the marketplace who remain in the cold. But when the truth that sets us free is neglected, and pleasantries take its place, the sheep are not nourished but fattened for slaughter—to be consumed by the spirit of the world and the tempter, since they have not been adequately dressed in the armor of God. [2]cf. Eph 6:13-17

The priest is called to lay down His life for his flock. Self-preservation is a contradiction to the holy priesthood. Faithfulness to Jesus and His Gospel may mean facing a hostile parish council, angry parishioners, and in some cases, even rebuke from one’s own bishop when, he too, has compromised with the spirit of worldliness. But dear priests: do not let the temptation to judge your ministry by how well you are liked to pervade. Perhaps your entire vocation at this time is to be rejected as was your Master. Christ is calling you to be faithful, not successful (and how many times He has reminded me of this!) By all counts, Christ appeared an utter failure as he dangled naked upon the Cross. But what a harvest His “failure” has brought the world…

Do not be afraid to give your lives for the flock. Perhaps the “new evangelization” has reached the point now where our World Youth Days, praise and worship hours, and youth events are not enough—that now our very blood will be required of us. So be it. Our reward is an eternal one after our brief service to God is rendered here.

If the word has not converted, it will be blood that converts. —ST. JOHN PAUL II, from poem “Stanislaw“

 

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WINTER 2015 CONCERT TOUR
Ezekiel 33:31-32

January 27: Concert, Assumption of Our Lady Parish, Kerrobert, SK, 7:00 pm
January 28: Concert, St. James Parish, Wilkie, SK, 7:00 pm
January 29: Concert, St. Peter’s Parish, Unity, SK, 7:00 pm
January 30: Concert, St. VItal Parish Hall, Battleford, SK, 7:30 pm
January 31: Concert, St. James Parish, Albertville, SK, 7:30 pm
February 1: Concert, Immaculate Conception Parish, Tisdale, SK, 7:00 pm
February 2: Concert, Our Lady of Consolation Parish, Melfort, SK, 7:00 pm
February 3: Concert, Sacred Heart Parish, Watson, SK, 7:00 pm
February 4: Concert, St. Augustine’s Parish, Humboldt, SK, 7:00 pm
February 5: Concert, St. Patrick’s Parish, Saskatoon, SK, 7:00 pm
February 8: Concert, St. Michael’s Parish, Cudworth, SK, 7:00 pm
February 9: Concert, Resurrection Parish, Regina, SK, 7:00 pm
February 10: Concert, Our Lady of Grace Parish, Sedley, SK, 7:00 pm
February 11: Concert, St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Weyburn, SK, 7:00 pm
February 12: Concert, Notre Dame Parish, Pontiex, SK, 7:00 pm
February 13: Concert, Church of Our Lady Parish, Moosejaw, SK, 7:30 pm
February 14: Concert, Christ the King Parish, Shaunavon, SK, 7:30 pm
February 15: Concert, St. Lawrence Parish, Maple Creek, SK, 7:00 pm
February 16: Concert, St. Mary’s Parish, Fox Valley, SK, 7:00 pm
February 17: Concert, St. Joseph’s Parish, Kindersley, SK, 7:00 pm

 

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1. cf. Heb 4:12
2. cf. Eph 6:13-17
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