Monday, June 19, 2017

At the heart of the priesthood is the Eucharist. At the heart of the Eucharist is the love of God – a thanksgiving reflection on my 16th sacerdotal anniversary.

At this time each year, I usually reflect upon something personal to me – how I have lived the past year as an ordained priest of Christ.  Come tomorrow, June 20, I would have been an ordained priest for 16 years.  Especially having come sailing through a life-threatening illness 4 years back, it has become clear to me that just making it past another physical year does not make an anniversary a big deal.  How one has lived out one’s vocation and how one has allowed oneself to be used by God to achieve his divine purposes ultimately reveals the quality of the year of life that has passed. 


Liturgically, what defines a priest most clearly and significantly is his role as an alter Christus or ‘another Christ’ at each celebration of the Eucharist.  It is his official role that he carries out each time he dons the priestly ceremonial robes and enters into the paschal mystery of Christ.  Doing something that is truly awesome once is always a memorable and breathtaking experience.  The Mass is precisely that.  Awesome and breathtaking.  But doing something awesome and breathtaking day in and day out, being deliberate about one’s actions and mindful about the divine implications of what is happening when one’s words are enunciated can become a challenge.  Of course, one can easily just go through the motions and at the end of it, be satisfied that it was a ‘job done’.  Christ, on the other hand, did not treat Calvary as merely a ‘job done’, but over and above everything else, it was ‘love done’. 

More and more, and I am not sure if it is because I am now past 50 years of age, or because I had the wonderful gift of the cancer episode, I am brought to a deeper level of awareness of how much love is at the heart of the Eucharist.  It was of course something that we had learnt in our theology classes when we were seminarians-in-training.  Learning something in class is very different when it comes to applying it in life, as anybody would know.  More so when it is a mystical reality that is being imparted.  Maybe it’s more than age.  Maybe it’s just that I have been mellowed.

Increasingly, each time I pray out loud the words of the Eucharistic prayer, I am led to a place where the energy that made it all possible was an energy of love.  God, as Jesus reveals, is love, and his actions reached love’s apogee on Calvary.  We who are baptized into Christ are the unmerited beneficiaries of this love that saved us.  The words I just wrote in the preceding sentence do not justice at all to just how truly magnificent and astounding God’s mercy and salvation is.  We can only get a glimpse of its deep reality now each time we participate actively in the Eucharist, and pray with great eagerness that after we die, we enter deeper into its embrace to truly live eternally in the love that saved us.

Because love is at the heart of the Eucharist, love then has to be at the heart of everything a priest does outside of the Eucharist.  How I live my life as a priest has everything to do with how conscious I am of the divine reality that I celebrate the Mass.  It is when there is little or no awareness of this connection that I allow the troubles and burdens of the world to overwhelm me.  Isn’t that the reason human beings sin?  When we forget the fact that we are in fact sustained and created in God’s love that we mistakenly take hold of life’s helm and direct the course of our lives according to our own ego-driven whims and fancies?

So, because it really does all come down to love, a reflection of my last 365 days as a priest of God has to then be seen in that light.  How much love has been the driving force of all my priestly work, my prayer, my relationships, my ministry and my daily activities. 

I wouldn’t dare say that I had been in that state of awareness 100% of the time.  I certainly can do better, and I want to – because more and more is it made clear to me that in everything I do, when it glorifies God, there the grace of God is too.  St Paul was so clear that everything that he was and did was due to the grace of God (1 Cor 15:10).  Attributing my last 16 years as a priest to anything else would only be remiss of me. 

Here’s to the next 365 days! 


3 comments:

  1. Blessed 16th sacerdotal anniversary Fr Luke:)

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  2. Happy Blessed 16th Sacerdotal Anniversary Fr Luke.
    God loves you!

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  3. Wishing you a Blessed 16th Anniversary Fr Luke!
    May you continue to be in good health to serve God n His people.
    Anna

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