A True and Genuine Priest…

 

By: Rev. Fr. Joel Agad

Truthfulness is to be consciously aware of what we are and who we are. For Leibniz and Spinoza (Modern Philosophers), man is the mirror of God, a representation of His perfection. The perfection of man as an embodied spirit is in state of possibilities. Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II) would say: “man is in a constant process of self actualization”. In other words, the call for truthfulness is for man to move constantly towards perfection. This movement is the actualization of the potentialities in us. It is making into a reality whatever is possible for us to be.

Why is man always in a state of actualizing his potentialities? Because that is simply what he is and who he is. That is truthfulness. So a man who pretends fails or stops to aspire and bring into life whatever possibility that he/she has. Socrates would describe it plainly as “violation against human nature”. So instead of “self-revealing” man becomes “self-in-hiding”. Making into a reality a possibility in us, for Heidegger, “is a constant act of unveiling oneself”, while refusing to actualize the potentiality in us, for St. Thomas, “is a denial of true self”. That is why St. Augustine said; “my heart is restless…until it rest in God”. Resting in God is to perfect oneself. Is it possible? Yes. Christ achieved it as a man that is why we were saved. The truthfulness of Christ to Himself as a man is exactly how to perfect man. Jesus fulfilled it by making Himself, His total self, always available for others. He used His suffering as means to save others. Everything in His life was always used to lead others back to the Father’s bosom.

Only in this way that we can perfect our life. Only through this way that we can be truthful to ourselves. Or else everything is just all pretenses that could make our “self” a perfect mirror of the Pharisees. The Pharisees simply stagnated in their formulated laws and traditions. They refused to grow.  They refused to improve. And they were afraid that this truth about themselves, of their own pretense would be known (be revealed) that is why they plotted to destroy the Son of man Jesus Christ who tried to undo it. That makes Jesus truthful while Pharisees liars.

A priest who does not give all of him-“self” and who is not at his beat and instead go for easy way and convenient life is a liar. If a priest uses his ministry to accommodate himself with all his selfish motives, he becomes exactly the opposite of Jesus Christ. The priest is not truthful to himself and is not faithful to his calling. This is the source of his insecurity. This is the reason why anyone who tries his best becomes a threat to him- “self” because his own pretense might be revealed. And when a person who tries his best admired while he is not, he would think that this person is bragging about or promoting himself. What a pity for this priest. What a precious gift of priesthood he has received yet he just steps on it and tramples on it with all his pretenses. In the process he so desires to drag others to his tragic state.

Priestly calling connotes giving of one’s “total self” into the ministry of God’s service to humanity. This giving of the total self connotes self denial. But it is through his self denial that he finds and gets what he needs in relation to his ministering. The saints though went far beyond this.

So truthfulness is to be realistic to one’s identity- grounded on one’s calling and mission. The mission of a priest is to win souls to the Heavenly Father. He is to influence, guide and direct God’s people to the Promise Land. And he is to do everything within his means, with all his intelligence, skills, talents and other gifts to fulfill- exactly what Jesus did. If you are an atheist, without invoking God’s name, Levinas would tell us: “to make yourself available and responsive to the face of the other is to make yourself a truthful person and authentic in using the gift of freedom”.

What are you doing here? Are you busy preparing yourself to become Perfect Pharisees or to become like Jesus Christ? You desire to become priests- are you willing to do all these? Your Yes is not the final answer yet- it is how you prepare yourself; it is how you live your life.

May all of you (if you’ll be priests) become a priest which the Church deserves- and the Church deserves the BEST!

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