First homily to seminarians and formators… To be a priest of Jesus Christ. That is why we are all here. Each of us has heard that unique call of our Lord in our lives to leave everything to follow him. This is a truly awesome thing! To be prophet, priest, and King, and to share in the redemptive work of Christ for our souls and the souls of those we encounter.
Often we are not aware of the power that is within us because of our baptism, for as Saint Paul says, “no one knows what pertains to God except the Spirit of God” (1 Cor 2:11). Saint Paul speaks about the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives when he says “we have not received the spirit of the world but the spirit who is from God, so that we may understand the things freely given us by God.” On the surface, we don’t see a lot of things. Often days our days seem pretty normal. We are all in seminary in order to discern our Lord’s call to be a priest. Some here have already been ordained priests for a few years! Every Baptized person shares in the prophetic, priestly, and royal offices of Christ, and this is true in a particular way for priests, and it certainly applies to those of us who are discerning the call to the priesthood.
We can share in the prophetic office especially by working hard in our studies, so that God willing we are ordained, we can be well formed to instruct the faithful in the knowledge of God. Since it is the Spirit working, all those hours of class, study, assignments, are how we can cooperate in the redemptive work of Christ.
Christ reconciles us to the Father because He is the High priest. He is the bridge that we rely upon to encounter God the Father. In the Gospel our Lord’s very presence is enough to make the demon shout out “I know who you are! The Holy One of God!” The demon realizes that God is in his midst, but the people are blind to this fact. Here we have an epic WWE showdown. The devil throws a chair, but our Lord throws an entire house, so to speak, and utterly demolishes any hold the demon had on his poor victim. We cannot forget that God is in our midst. Hidden in our daily lives, and most especially in the Eucharist. The demon realized the power of his teaching and his presence, and this should make us stop to consider if we allow the power of Christ to really affect our day to day lives as well. We can’t be afraid to cry out to Him in prayer, especially spending time with him everyday in silence before the Tabernacle where He is truly present.
Our Lord is the true sovereign King over all creation. The demon who had held this man prisoner for so long had no choice but to flee when Christ commanded Him to do so. This is a great image of what confession is. When the priest absolves us of our sins, we are free. The devil flees from us. The priest is truly meant to live his life in service to the people of God. We can practically learn this by anticipating the needs of each other here, as well as looking for ways to serve others outside the seminary. Our families, friends, the poor, the men at men’s mission, all we encounter. We share in this governance now by doing our best to care for the souls who rely upon us for prayer and support. We have to pray for each other, be patient with each other, and truly be brothers to one another.
We are discerning this great calling to the priesthood which is to share in a particular way in the triple office of Christ: priest, prophet, and King. This is a very personal and intimate step each of has taken, to encounter Christ, and to help people encounter this freedom and joy that He brings. Baptisms, confessions, funerals, matrimony, anointing of the sick. In absolving sinners, the priest shares in the action that we see Christ doing in today’s Gospel. Seminary is not just a really long waiting period, but a real time that we have to encounter Christ and to help be that bridge for others to encounter Him. We are given many opportunities to practice, and to allow Christ to conform us to His image. Benedict XVI gave some great words of encouragement to priests, which I think apply here as well: “living witnesses of the power of God at work in human weakness, consecrated for the salvation of the world, you remain, my dear brothers, chosen by Christ himself in order to be, through Him, salt of the earth and light of the world.” We are weak, but Christ conquers all. He calls us to share in His victory. Amen.