Tuesday, February 16, 2021
Sunday Mass will be restarting at St Mary's, Wycliffe, again from this Sunday (21st February) at 11.30am. Many thanks to those who have come forward to make this possible. Please continue to follow the Government guidance on places of worship if you are coming.
Saturday, February 13, 2021
Sunday, February 7, 2021
Readings: Universalis: Mass
In persona Christi
Christ’s priestly actions are very evident in today’s Gospel. We hear Jesus preaching in the synagogues of Galilee, curing the sick, casting out devils, and, most importantly, we hear that He prays.
These actions all bring to mind the ministry and indeed the identity of priests and therefore to promote this wonderful vocation! Remember that a ministerial priest acts “in persona Christi capitis” – in the person of Christ the Head of the Church. It means that in the celebration of the Sacraments, the priest’s words and actions are the very words and actions of Jesus Himself.
We can picture that incredible scene, one of my favourites in the New Testament, of the sick and the possessed crowding around the door of Simon and Andrew’s house, desperate to be healed by Jesus. Similarly, when a Catholic is nearing the end of their life, or when they’re elderly or seriously ill, they’re eager for a priest to come with the holy oils of the sick to anoint them. They are strengthened and their souls are healed, and on occasions when the Lord wills it, they can be healed physically too.
We can also think of the crowd around the door like the queue for the Confessional – where people come to be healed of a disease of a different kind – their sins. Again, it’s Christ through by the words and actions of the priest who forgives us when we come with a contrite heart to Confession.
The priest imitates Christ too by preaching the Gospel – as Jesus did in the synagogue. It’s an enormous duty placed on priests, even from the moment of their ordination as deacons.
To nourish and sustain priests in their carrying out of Christ’s mission, prayer is indispensable. Jesus gets up very early in the morning and goes to a lonely place to pray to his Father. So too, priests must have that solitude to be with Christ every day, to grow in love of Him, and to offer the needs of God’s people to Our Heavenly Father. I’ve noticed, especially recently, that people do ask you specifically as their priest to pray for their intentions. It’s another of our many important duties.
And so today’s Gospel give us a little insight into the life of a priest. Just as the people see Jesus the Supreme High Priest walking the town and countryside of Galilee, so too whenever you see Canon Michael or myself walk the streets of Richmond, you can be reminded that Christ is among you. That’s got absolutely nothing to do with the extent to which we might personally follow Christ’s example (I certainly have a lot of work to do on that!). But rather because by our ordination we share in Christ’s priesthood; we represent Christ the priest on earth.
Without priests, Christ’s work of salvation simply cannot continue. Without priests there can be no Mass and none of the other sacraments of healing.
And so, it’s incumbent on all of us to promote and encourage vocations to the priesthood in our families and our parish. St Paul says today that he didn’t choose the work of preaching himself, but rather it’s a duty that’s been laid upon him. So too today, it’s not a question of asking young men: “Do you want to be a priest” – but rather – “is the Lord calling you to be a priest” – and then to help them discern the Lord’s call for them.
And too, importantly, let’s pray that the Lord will send labourers to his harvest.