Good News Reflections:
Making scripture meaningful to your daily life
by Terry Modica
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DISCOVER TODAY: Through Baptism all the faithful share in the priesthood of Christ.
Good News Reflection for:
Thursday of the 33rd Week of Ordinary Time
Memorial of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious
November 17, 2022
Open my spiritual eyes and ears, Lord, to know how to recognize and take advantage of Your presence in my life. Amen.
Subscribe to Today’s Saint Quote & Prayer:
Ps 149:1b-6a, 9b (with Rev. 5:10)
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
The unity of priesthood
Today’s first reading (from Revelation) gives us a hymn from heaven: “You made them a kingdom and priests for our God, and they will reign on earth.” This is not referring to just clergy. We were all baptized into the priestly, prophetic and royal ministry of Christ.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. #1591, explains: “The whole Church is a priestly people. Through Baptism all the faithful share in the priesthood of Christ. This participation is called the ‘common priesthood of the faithful.'”
Jesus is the High Priest. With him, we should all be offering sacrifices for the sake of the kingdom. And we all have a ministry of praying and interceding for others, even tearfully at times as we see Jesus doing in the Gospel passage. With Jesus, we cry for those who are facing difficulties but have not yet turned their lives over to God: “If you only knew what makes for peace….” This priesthood of tears is a sharing in the Passion of Christ.
Para. #1547 of the Catechism says that the ministerial (ordained) priests and the common (lay) priesthood work together, “each in its own proper way, in the one priesthood of Christ.” Priests and laity are yoked together, and the yoke of Jesus is easy and light because the burden of the work is reduced when it’s shared. When each of us – clergy and laity together – share our gifts and talents collaboratively, much more is accomplished and with greater energy than when we serve God separately.
Vatican Council II restored the Church to this original vision of Christ and the Apostles and the new parishes they founded. Tragically, many of our parishes today lack the implementation of this vision.
When ordained priests flourish in their ministry, empowering their parishioners to use their talents and skills in the Church freely, the common priesthood of the laity flourishes, and the parish comes alive, donations increase, and much good is accomplished.
Likewise, when the laity help their clergy by freeing them from the business of the church so they can thrive in their sacramental duties, the ministerial priesthood also flourishes. Most vocations to the priesthood come from the example of priests who are flourishing, and the new vocations that are most pastoral used to be laity who were empowered by their priests to come alive in the spirit of service.
By working together in the priesthood of Christ, there is no vocation shortage. We might not have enough ordained priests to fill every parish, but our Lord is a God of sufficiency. He provides, not through individuals, but through community. He provides, not through the clergy alone, but through community. Every need can be met if clergy and religious and laity serve in partnership, unified by the priesthood of Christ.
Where there is insufficiency in getting the Lord’s work done, it’s because the laity have not yet fully accepted their own calling to ministry and/or their priests have not yet fully empowered them (or they’ve empowered them but then blocked their potential by trying to control them). Ordained priests are freer to carry out the mission of their Holy Orders when the laity are free to use, in collaboration with them, the gifts that God has given to them.
The vocations of the laity are not only, as we’ve heard many years in a limiting way, “the vocation of marriage” and “the vocation of living a chaste life as a single.” The vocations of the laity are the rightful, empowered use of whatever their gifts and talents are, for the sake of the Church.
Have you been praying for an increase in holy vocations? God is answering that prayer – and you are part of the solution. We cannot merely pray about it; God is tapping each of us on our shoulders and saying, “Okay, I am calling you, too. Get busy! Work with the rest of the priestly people.”
For more on the topic of this subject, use our prayer “Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary for an Increase of Holy Vocations” @ gnm.org/prayers/pray-the-rosary/vocations/.
© 2022 by Terry A. Modica
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