National Priesthood Sunday
31st Sunday in Ordinary Time-C
I like “ol’ Zacchaeus” in today’s Gospel. He was short in stature – and he wanted to see Jesus.
So he – a grown-up – climbed up a sycamore tree. He must have looked like a monkey out on that limb! But that’s how badly he wanted to see Jesus.
Zacchaeus was wealthy – but he was not happy. He also was lonely – for he was a chief tax collector, and that made him an outcast.
He had heard that Jesus welcomed tax collectors and sinners – and he wondered if Jesus would have any room for him.
And Jesus looked up and saw him in that tree and said, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.”
Then Zacchaeus took steps to show all the community that he was a changed man. He declared that he would give half of his possessions to the poor. And, from the other half, he would make restitution “four times over” to anyone that he had defrauded during his tax-collector career.
And Jesus declares: “Today, salvation has come to this house… For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.”
This is National Priesthood Sunday. We pray for all of the priests in our nation. While the sinful failings of some have caused serious harm and require amends to be made, the vast majority of our priests are good, chaste, hard-working men of faith and prayer and kindness.
Sharing in the priesthood of Jesus, we priests are to continue to do what Jesus did. People want to see Jesus. People have every right to expect us priests to show them what Jesus is like.
Our seminarians look forward to being priests. We currently have sixty-seven seminarians in our diocese and eight of them will be ordained to the priesthood in May.
Pray for all of our seminarians during their college years at Borromeo Seminary as well as during their five years of theology at Saint Mary Seminary. Both of our seminaries are located at the Center for Pastoral Leadership in Wickliffe, Ohio on Cleveland’s east side.
And please pray for all of the fine young people of our parishes that the Lord may be calling to the priesthood or the religious life. I believe that we have a number of candidates here in our Saint Joseph and Nativity Parish Families. Let them know that you think they have what it takes to be a priest or a sister or a brother, if indeed God is calling them.
A dream that I have had for a long time is that each year a young man would enter the seminary and a young woman would enter the convent from the parishes where I am serving. I am hoping that this dream is beginning to come true here.
I thank the Lord for calling me to be His priest. Forty-one years have passed since my ordination on 14 June 1975 – and I have never regretted this decision. In fact, knowing all that I know today, I would do it all over again.
I am grateful that the Lord has called me – and that He has given me this wonderful opportunity to serve you as His priest … as your priest … here in our Saint Joseph and Nativity Parish Families.
To all of you, I say: be like Zacchaeus! Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb to see Jesus! With His grace, cultivate a personal relationship with Him in your vocation, in your calling.
And as Jesus said to Zacchaeus, perched up in that tree, Jesus says to us: “Come down… come down quickly, for today I must stay in your house.”