Thirtieth-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Priest and the Faithful must keep God’s commands:
On this Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time, we are invited to reflect on the ministry of priests, as well as our own baptismal vocations, which also makes us disciples of Christ. It is both a challenge and a clarion call for all of us.
In the First Reading, Prophet Malachi shares the command of God saying, “A great King am I, says the Lord of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations. And now, O priests, this commandment is for you: If you do not listen, if you do not lay it to heart, to give glory to my name, says the Lord of hosts, I will send a curse upon you and of your blessing I will make a curse. You have turned aside from the way, and have caused many to falter by your instruction; you have made void the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of hosts. I, therefore, have made you contemptible and base before all the people since you do not keep my ways, but show partiality in your decisions. Have we not all the one father? Has not the one God created us? Why then do we break faith with one another, violating the covenant of our fathers?”
This First Reading reechoes the Gospel of Matthew, where Jesus reminded his Apostles that “The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
A few times, I have shared either in my homilies or in my writings that it is not the responsibility of the priest to preach his own idea or comfort, but to always bear in mind that the moment his Catholic Bishop laid his hand on his head and anointed his hands, the priest from that moment has become the bearer of God’s word – “Kerygma.” He challenges God’s people to return to God their Lord, as well as comforts them when in anguish. But in all situation, it is not his own message that he preaches – it is the message that belongs to God the Father. This is the point of the First reading. Our Lord Jesus Christ reminds us in the Gospel of Matthew that humility is in the center of the priestly ministry. It is not a worldly glorified position, but a calling that represents God and treats everybody as God’s children: no Jew or Greek; no slaves or freeborn; no special races; no preferential services or treatment. We are the same before God our Father, because God made all human beings in his image and likeness. This message, nevertheless, is not limited only to the members of the ordained ministers (priests), but to all God’s baptized children and all human beings. Brethren, let us strive daily with self-reflection and deep prayer to aspire towards these God’s injunctions, Amen.