“A Royal Priesthood”

Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’ As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’ Matthew, 23

priesthoodIt’s tough being a priest. Housekeepers and cooks, being driven everywhere, paid for meals at expensive restaurants, weekly gifts of checks and cash. Everyone calling you what Jesus expressly told us not to call you, “Father.”

“Ahhhh. The agony of it all!” But I cope as best I can. (I hope do not believe any of this.) Many years ago, however, I do remember being at a party and a priest walked in with his housekeeper. She drove him and made his drinks. Might as well have called them, “Mr. and Mrs.” I just smiled to myself and thought, “How do I get one of those?”

Next week you will all be receiving a customer survey telephone call from this parish. Using your touchtone phone, it’s four simple questions.

It’ll say,

“In the interest of priestly quality assurance providing a happy environment for all Christ King parishioners, please answer the following questions by pressing 1 for being ‘poor’ or pressing 5 for being ‘great.’”

-Did Father greet each and every one of you as you entered church today using your first name?
-Did Father tell each parent with a child under five years old, “What a beautiful child you have?”
-Did Father open all the envelopes taken during the collection before distributing communion to you?
-Did Father smile sufficiently during Mass to make you want to return to church?

Thank you for your time. Your answers are all anonymous. Only your Social Security number will be recorded and saved.”

As I was typing this Wednesday night, I saw a large bird sitting on top of a tall tree outside my window. The view he must have had up there. What was he thinking, I thought. Was he thinking, “I’m ‘on top of the world,’ the head of all this” or was his thought, “I must preserve, manage and enrich all of this.” I hope the bird’s and the priesthood’s answer was the latter.

“A Royal Priesthood, A People Set Apart,” a Catholic prayer

The same priesthood as parents serves and guide their children. “Preserve, manage and enrich.” It’s the priesthood of parenting. It’s the priesthood that I’ve tried to embrace for myself. Through our baptisms, we are all “priests” in our servanthood to whatever commitments we’ve either made in life and those commitments given to us. A widow or widower continues to be a “priest” but with a new dimension or definition of life – regardless of how difficult it might be to reach it. Caring for an aging parent as an adult is a responsibility not freely chosen but sacredly accepted. That’s priestly-servanthood. A priestly ten-year-old’s job is the wonder and mystery that this life opens up in observing and absorbing it every, single day. It’s a wonder and mystery that I hope none of us ever lose – no matter our age. Speaking of age, how about those folks who tell me, “I never thought I’d live this long.” How is your time spent? Are you actively involved in the lives of your family or are you that forgotten relative that’s related to someone who’s related to some else? What’s your priestly ministry in the last part of life? You need to tell me because I’m not there yet.

Preserve, Manage, Enrich

“Preserve, manage and enrich” is my new mantra after reading today’s gospel. Preserve the rich heritage of the Catholic Church, manage what I can in my own life and advising others of the same. My favorite of three is enriching. How can I enrich the life of another person? Humor? (Works for me.) Prayer? For me, as awkward as it is to pray spontaneously, the answer is, “Yes.” Not merely listening but purely listening to someone’s long story? “Yes.” How about the “priesthood” of regrets or past sins that we all carry around? Enriching means putting that stupid stuff to sleep and awakening to a new day with the help of Christ.

Those three are not that difficult for us to achieve as “priests” of the church. We are all priests in the circumstances and situations of our lives – lived within the priesthood of Christ.

Oh, and by the way, I can make my own drinks.

 

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS. All available on Amazon.com
“Soulful Muse,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
Living Faith’s Mysteries,”
inspirational reflections on the Christian seasons
of Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter – a great seasonal gift
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
“Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of letters written by my cats over twenty years
“Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). www.Salvatorians.com. He is associate pastor of partnering parishes, Christ King and St. Bernard parishes in Wauwatosa, WI.
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