God bless us this Holy Thursday. And how he has!
Tonight we mark the Last Supper — the first of many for us. And we mark the institution of the priesthood, such a blessed gift to bring us the Eucharist and God’s sacramental mercy. Our good and holy priests are brave men in our culture.
At the Chrism Mass in Los Angeles earlier this week, Archbishop José Gomez told his brother priests:
By your ordination, you have been given sacred powers to do what no man can do apart from God’s anointing. The power to speak his own words with his own authority. The power to change bread and wine into his Body and Blood. The power to forgive men and women their sins.
In this world where it’s getting harder to find God, and where people have forgotten how to forgive, you have a challenging mission.
My brothers, you are called to show our world the merciful heart of God! You are called to show our neighbors that they have a Father whose forgiveness knows no limits. We need to remind them — that the measure of God’s mercy is the measure of the mercy that we show to others.
My prayer for each one of you every day is that you always remember — who you are and what God has called you to do. I pray that you always live with joy and gratitude for the beautiful privilege that we have to be his priests.
I know it’s not easy. An Archbishop, you remember, is still a priest. A priest forever, just like you. So I know the daily pressures you feel, your anxiety for your churches and for your people.
That’s why prayer is so important, my brothers.
“Prayer is a battle!” That’s a line from the Catechism that I like a lot. It’s true, isn’t it? We have to do battle with our weakness. We have to struggle against all those things in our lives that would distract us and turn us away from our union with Jesus Christ.
As priests, all the pressures we face are basically a temptation to forget who we are. We have to remember that being a priest isn’t our job. It’s our deepest sacred identity. It’s who we are “other Christs.”
So we need to pray hard, we need to keep up the battle.
We need to pray for our priests as they pray for us.