In a few weeks I will happily celebrate 30 years of priestly ordination. In 30 years I have been blessed to be invited into the hearts and souls of God's people, in moments of intense pain, deep grief, paralyzing puzzlement, and unbounded joy. I have seldom heard a more penetrating reflection on priesthood than that of Pope Francis at today's Chrism Mass in Rome. Reflecting on the flowing oil spoken of in Psalm 133, Pope Francis said, "A good priest can be recognized by the way his people are anointed. This is a clear test. When our people are anointed with the oil of gladness, it is obvious: for example, when they leave Mass looking as if they have heard good news. Our people like to hear the Gospel preached with “unction”, they like it when the Gospel we preach touches their daily lives, when it runs down like the oil of Aaron to the edges of reality, when it brings light to moments of extreme darkness, to the 'outskirts' where people of faith are most exposed to the onslaught of those who want to tear down their faith. People thank us because they feel that we have prayed over the realities of their everyday lives, their troubles, their joys, their burdens and their hopes. And when they feel that the fragrance of the Anointed One, of Christ, has come to them through us, they feel encouraged to entrust to us everything they want to bring before the Lord: 'Pray for me, Father, because I have this problem', 'Bless me', 'Pray for me' – these words are the sign that the anointing has flowed down to the edges of the robe, for it has turned into prayer. The prayers of the people of God. " I say, "Thank you, God, for the privilege and honor of being a priest of Jesus Christ."
March 28, 2013
Msgr. William J. King