In his element
WE just celebrated the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus recently. There we were reminded of this very moving truth of our faith that it was from the pierced heart of Jesus that not only blood and water flowed but rather through them the nourishing sacraments and all the salvific means we need have been made available to us.
The Solemnity also happens to be the Day of the Sanctification of Priests, an intriguing coincidence meant to highlight the strict sacramental identification of the priests with Christ as head of the Church.
As such, we cannot overemphasize the need for priests to be truly holy as to be truly ‘another Christ,’ as all Christians are supposed to be. Priests should somehow take the lead in this duty. It has to be understood that to be ‘another Christ’ as head of the Church, priests should be willing to give their all, to the extent of willing to be crucified and pierced in the heart.
I would say that it is when a priest at least would pursue in earnest his own sanctification, his own duty to be ‘another Christ’ as head of the Church in spite of his defects, that he would be in his element when he gives his homily at Mass.
He would exude some kind of X factor that goes beyond whatever prowess he may have in terms of his knowledge in theology and philosophy, his ability at public speaking, and the fruitfulness of his pastoral work, etc. In a sense, he exudes a certain sacred aura that the people can easily perceive.
We, priests, should try, of course, to master as much as we can our theology and philosophy, our art of public speaking, our effectiveness in our pastoral work. But we have to understand that there is something more fundamental that is always needed. And that is the very spirit of Christ which we ought to acquire, develop, deepen and enrich.
We should aim to make as our own what St. Paul once said: “We have the mind of Christ,” (1 Cor 2,16) and “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal 2,20)
Even in our moments of rest and recreation, this awareness of our identification as ‘another Christ,’ head of the Church, should never be lost. Rather it should always be nourished, protected, defended and reinforced. Let’s remember that it is actually Christ who would give us the proper rest. (cfr. Mt 11,28)
In this way, we would be ready not only to show Christ but rather to be ‘another Christ’ at any given moment, knowing how to take care of the flock, the people of God, leading them to where they should be. We would be ready to give the proper answers and solutions to questions and problems at any given moment.
This is no easy task, of course. But the means are always there. Aside from the sacramental conformation to Christ in Holy Orders, we priests need to pray and make sacrifices daily, celebrate the Mass and avail of the sacrament of penance regularly, and study. The priestly formation never ends. The priestly discipline should be exercised constantly.
When we would be truly identified with Christ, then giving a homily would be no problem at all. Like the Boy Scouts, we would always be prepared. In fact, we would be in our element when giving the homily. We would not sound sophomoric, “trying hard, dilettantish, amateurish, etc. In fact, we would have the eloquence of the Holy Spirit. And the people will get convinced they are not only hearing Fr. so-and-so, but Christ himself.