Calling Good Men!

Friends in Christ, today in the 1st reading, we see St. Paul at Miletus – near Ephesus – he knows he will soon be arrested – and killed. So he gathers with the presbyters of the Church. This is where we get the word for ‘priests’ – presbyters. They came from all around Asia Minor to say goodbye; it would be the last time they would see him until the next life. St. Paul knelt down and prayed with them all. They were weeping as they threw their arms around him and kissed him, for they were deeply distressed that they would never see his face again.
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St. Paul prayed for his priests, and in the Gospel today, Our Lord also, prays for his priests. This is the long discourse Jesus has with his priests before his Passion. He prays for them: ‘Father, keep them in your name …. I do not ask, Father, that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the Evil One.’ Christ knew that the devil would be after his priests from day one, why? It is from the priest’s hands that the life-blood – Christ, in his body – comes into the Church. It is through the priest that forgiveness is given in Confession.
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St. Paul knew of these dangers; he said to his brother: ‘I know that after my departure savage wolves will come among you. And from your own group, men will come forward perverting that truth.’ St. Joseph Cafasso says: A priest is taken from people, and ordained for the sanctification of people; but he does not belong to the people; the priest belongs to God. The priest is to be a man of God, not a man of the people. (St. Joseph Cafasso, p. 22)
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For a few decades now, there has been a push by the secular world, to convince priests to stop being men of God, and to be men of the world. But Jesus says, ‘they do not belong to the world.’ We are called to live IN the world – but not OF the world, this is true for all of us.
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Yet essentially the priest’s life is a war against the Devil. Referring to his priests, Jesus prayed: ‘Father, keep them from the Evil one.’ That devil, is on the opposing side of everything the priest does.
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As I walked into a hospital yesterday, a young black man shouted out, ‘Hello Preacher!!’ I said, ‘How are you!?’    ‘Very good, very good.’ I saw that he was an Orkin man. I said, ‘You go around driving out pests.’ ‘SURE ‘NOUGH!, he said. ‘I do the same. Different kind of a Pest though!’ ‘Yeah…I gotcha!’
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The Church needs more men to step up for battle – against the Pest. But God gives us according to what we deserve, so we should pray daily, for more vocations to the priesthood. And if we know any young man of good character – a neighbor, a grandson – ask him: ‘Ever thought of being a priest?’

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