Sunday, 15 November 2009

Pope Benedict on the Priesthood: 'To be with Him and to be sent out' Part II

"Where do we go if we say 'yes' to the Lord's call? The briefest description of the priestly mission - and this is true in its own way for men am women religious too - has been given to us by the Evangelist Mark. In his account of the call of the Twelve, he says: 'Jesus appointed twelve to be with him and to be sent out' (3:14) To be with Jesus and, being sent, to go out to meet people - these two things belong together and together they are tbe heart of a vocation, of the priesthood. To be with him and to be sent out - the two are inseparable. Only one who is 'with him' comes to know him and can truly proclaim him. And anyone who has been with him cannot keep to himself what he has found; instead, he has to pass it on. Such was the case with Andrew, who told his brother Simon: 'We have found the Messiah' (Jn I:41). And the Evangelist adds: 'He brought Simon to Jesus' (Jn I:42). Pope Gregory the Great, in one of his homilies, once said that God's angels, however far afield they go on their missions, always move in God. They remain always with him. And while speaking about the angels, Saint Gregory thought also of bishops and priests: wherever they go, they should always 'be with him'. We know this from experience: whenever priests, because of their many duties, allot less time to being with the Lord, they eventually lose, for all their often heroic activity, the inner strength that sustains them. Their activity ends up as an empty activism. To be with Christ - how does this come about? Well, the first and most important thing for the priest is his daily Mass, always celebrated with deep interior participation. If we celebrate Mass truly as men of prayer, if we unite our words and our activities to the Word that precedes us and let them be shaped by the Eucharistic celebration, if in Communion we let ourselves truly be embraced by him and receive him - then we are being with him.

The Liturgy of the Hours is another fundamental way of being with Christ: here we pray as people conscious of our need to speak with God, while lifting up all those others who have neither the time nor the ability to pray in this way. If our Eucharistic celebration and the Liturgy of the Hours are to remain meaningful, we need to devote ourselves constantly anew to the spiritual reading of sacred Scripture; not only to be able to decipher and explain words from the distant past, but to discover the word of comfort that the Lord is now speaking to me, the Lord who challenges me by this word. Only in this way will we be capable of bringing the inspired Word to the men and women of our time as the contemporary and living Word of God. "

Tomorrow DV, Part III will conclude the homily.

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