This happened many years ago. I decided to go to the seminary. One of the requirements was a talk with a bishop. He asked me, why I want to be a priest. In my youthful stupidity I honestly answered, that I knew many priests and I thought, that people deserve a good and helpful one. I was young and mindless. I became a priest six years later and I have served people for over eleven years. And I am pretty sure that many people, looking at me, think exactly the same: we deserve a better priest. They are right. I realise my imperfection and weakness every day. I have no idea, why God has chosen me to be a priest. But one thing is certain: the reason was not my perfection.
In today’s gospel we find a statement of John the Baptist. Let’s listen again: “Someone is following me, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to kneel down and undo the strap of his sandals. I have baptised you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit”. When I read it a few days ago, I asked God, what he wanted to tell me personally by this passage. At a particular moment I saw very clearly the message: this is a metaphoric and symbolic definition of my ministry. And more generally, this is the definition of each ministry of the church.
Looking back to the past I can see, that many different priests help to shape my mind, my spirituality and my priesthood. None of them was perfect. Everyone had virtues and vices. They did form me by the way, just by being good people and doing their best. After many years I can see “someone, who was following them, someone more powerful than they were”. I am very grateful to them.
You too have met a few priests and nuns in your life. Some of them baptise you, another one prepared you for first confession and communion, someone else blessed your marriage. They taught you, shaped your mind and attitude. Some of them were very pleasant and nice; some of them were strict and demanding; a chain of people, who had an impact on your lives. Are you grateful to them? Of course, you are!
We are invited to join this chain and become people, who are shaping the next generations. This voice from heaven is heard above us: “You are my son, my daughter, beloved; my favour rests on you”. We are the chosen ones to be the body of Christ: his helpful hands, his walking feet, his wise mouth, his loving heart.