Monday, December 16, 2013

The Power of Priesthood


Last day there was a public voicing of the credibility of priests and their works by a man to an old lady, in a queue in the LIC office. Since it was a queue, nobody had any business other than hear this juicy topic. But to the horror for the man and the spectators, the old lady declined herself to be dragged into the malice. She said sternly, “Look, I do not like to criticise any priests or for that matter anybody. And you’re a man, it won’t suit you to talk in such a manner, as a woman. Please let me be as I am. The man felt ashamed because he was publicly humiliated. Here the generation gap which focuses the lifestyles of two cultures and characters were reflected. But it was a thought for me as a lay person.

We are living in an age where priests and sisters are valued less. An age where there are hordes of opportunities to corrupt mankind. In the process the God’s selected few too get corrupted, unwittingly. But the humiliation others take is heart rending. It is indeed a sad spectacle to watch the Holy See ask pardon in each and every country. It really made me think. Why is it happening? What can we do to stop these?

I think we have really thrown out the respect for the God’s chosen people from our system, which our parents and grandparents had instilled in us. I remember when we were small, how respectfully they spoke to the priests and nuns. They used words to the minimum and answer to the question without any additives. We too stood there awed by the spiritual people.

But now, its changed, the time has changed, the spiritual community wanted to bring us lay people too into the special category fold in the eyes of God. Thus taking out the barrier that divided the priests with the lay people, making the lay man feel that God is not just for the selected few but to all of humanity. Well, that was a good sign but unfortunately the line that differentiated the priest and the lay merged in the hearts of the lay people which brought along with it back slapping, knee jerking activities from the part of the lay people towards the priests resulting in forgetting the basic protocol which should be followed by us to the selected few. The priest might give the freedom to be equal to him. But his very existence is very special in the eyes of God. We could never equal a priest no matter whatever good we do. I am not joking. Its a fact. Because he decided to say "Yes God, I follow you. I leave my everything for you." Did we say that at any time of our life? I don't think so or else, we would have been priests. So never try to equal with a priest, its a waste of time from our part and I for one would surely would have refuted all these things, if I had been born recently. But my experiences are so many, that I would like to pass it on to you before you make a grave mistake of thinking that priests are normal like us or human beings. They surely are normal and human. But they have been bestowed by special powers which has been promised by God Himself because they said Yes. So I will write of some of the experiences I have had, which really made me say "WoW!!!!

It was the time, when Pope John Paul II visited India in the year 1986. He visited the Cathedral of the Latin Catholic Archdiocese of Verapoly on February 7. On that day, one of my friends, who were also very close to the church, was the main person to decorate, the church and the room, as part of the Pope’s visit. So as a token of thanks, to all the people, who helped for the success of the programme, the Archbishop gave an opportunity to the selected few to be blessed by the pope. In that selected few, my friend was included. She was really happy. She stood there waiting in line for her turn to be blessed. When the pope touched her forehead, she didn’t expect the impact she would have at that moment. The pope touched and a lightning coursed through her. A vibration was activated in her whole body. She didn’t know how to define it. But she said, it was a power, which made her feel happy, which made her feel free. She was full of love. She felt like she was floating in the air. It was the power of the Holy Spirit.

We all know, he had a tight schedule during those visits, blessing all the people on the way, touching and waving. So when he touched my friend, he might have just given it like giving a smile, but we came to know the power when we received it. This reminded me about the miracle of Jesus, In Matthew 9:20-22, “Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment. The spiritual power that God had bestowed upon Jesus was not centralised only in body parts alone, but in every atom of his being and to the paraphernalias that touched His Being. Don’t think this power is bestowed only for the pope because he is the successor of St. Peter.

I had another experience, this time it was for my uncle. He was a wander lust by nature. And his travel usually focused to be a participant for the rites of Priest or Bishop ordination and their first Thanksgiving Mass. So one day, he went to attend the Holy order of a Bishop. Seeing his grey hair and his stature, he was allowed to sit in the front row of the gathering. He didn’t decline. He went and participated in the function and then the following High mass. After the mass, he went to the new bishop to kiss his ring and when my uncle reached him, he requested, will you please bless me. The new bishop gave his blessing willingly by touching him on the forehead and lo behold! A power passed through my uncle’s body. He felt happy and he went, and on the way, he felt, there was some change in him. He was cured of back pain and head ache. It had been with him from very young.

"And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease." Matthew 10:1

He was so amazed, that he told the whole world about it, which included me too. I was happy and I too passed this good news to all.

But then you would think, that since, the bishop has been newly ordained and he is fresh from being bestowed the Holy Spirit by other bishops, he would be powerful. But I have another experience, which is simply mind boggling.

It happened in a remote village in Kerala, years back, may be more than 60 years back. During those times the hilly terrains of the Western Ghats, were only fit for forests and animals. No man ever dared to tread there, but people did tread in search of land and dreams to make money and life. Some, were rich and some poor. The people who were capable to cut the forest area and irrigate land, without the forester’s knowledge were considered smart. They built huts within a day. There were Christian community too in the group along with other religions. So the bishop of the mainland considered his duty to provide Christian services for the Christian people in the forest. Thus a priest was also sent. He too with others worked hard to get some land for the church and made a home to settle and with the help of the local people irrigated the land. And Sundays he offered mass because, no people would dare to walk alone the forest path as there were lots of wild animals. During those times, there were no buses to that area and they had to go on foot for 2 days, in order to get to the bus stand. If somebody fell sick, usually, he would be a dead man before he reaches the hospital. Then slowly, slowly, this parish priest looked for willing people from the main land who could treat the sick and to give education to the children. He brought the nurses, the teachers under his wings, thus creating a community, which solely relied on each other for help and they became a close knit and well bonded community. So this story happened during this time. The parish priest brought a female nurse, to this remote community and she was given the church property, with a lady assistant not far from the church, down the hill. First the patients came in trickle, then it started flowing, then it became a large scale clinic, though they didn’t have that much rooms to accommodate they didn’t refuse anybody, they treated all who arrived, accommodating in the nearby church and all. In the mean time, the nurse got married and she had many children and they were living there in a connecting building to the clinic and money was flowing for them. They bought lands in most of the places, near to the clinic and wherever they could get hold of. They were respected by all.

Years passed and the father received a transfer and it was time to give back all the keys and property papers to the new vicar. He had everything ready, except for this building. He had not asked any rent or any surety for the building. So he called the nurse and asked her, “I’ve been transferred and before I go, I’d like you to vacate the clinic, so that I could give the keys of the building to the new vicar. Its the rule of the church. Its actually not a building fit for a clinic. Since you have lots of land, you can build a new one. Until then you can be here. But you will have to vacate it because its a church property. The nurse, looked at the priest and smiled, and spoke,

“Fr. I can pay for the land and the building. Give it to me.”

The priest replied, “When I worked on this land, I didn’t toil for my need or for my luxury, it was on behalf of the church I worked. So I cannot decide on my own to sell just like that. I’m really sorry, I cannot sell any property of the church. You have the land adjoining this building. You can build a bigger hospital there.” But the nurse was adamant. She didn’t budge an iota to return the building. Then after some thought, the priest looked directly and said,

“Since you’re adamant in your decision, keep it with you.” The nurse was happy. She left to her clinic and the priest left for America. From that day started her downward journey - Her eldest son was the smartest in school. He was the best student in school for seven years consecutively. One day he fell unconscious in class. He was treated and treated and he is now just a living moron, another son was afflicted by polio. He was also treated, he started walking but lost his education, then two sons and two daughters were educated properly. But when they married two were barren and one left home, who was to look the parents and above all nobody bore a son to continue their family name. In short if we get into their house, its like a ghost house. "And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Matthew 16:19

If just a word of a priest can create such havoc. So beware. The power is there from the lower strata to the upper echelons of priesthood. Don’t consider them as simply human.

God has stated plainly, how we should behave to His chosen people. “Fear the Lord with all your heart, and have respect for his priests. Love your Creator with all your strength, and give his ministers your support. Honour the Lord and respect the priests. Supply them with what you have been commanded to give: the first produce, the offering for sin, the shoulder of the sacrificial animal—all the required sacrifices and offerings.” Sirach 7:29-31

What will be the reward for those who follow the above rule? “Suppose someone welcomes a prophet as a prophet. That one will receive a prophet's reward. And suppose someone welcomes a godly person as a godly person. That one will receive a godly person's reward.” Mathew 10:41,

Jesus has said about their limitations through John 13:18, “I know those I have chosen.” So we have no right to judge the priests. We can extend our help through our prayers and not publicly humiliate them.

God would give His chosen people, their due according to the deeds, but when He does punish them, He would include us too in His wrath because we had judged them, humiliated them. So beware when you open your mouth against God’s chosen ones. "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men." Romans 1:18

Before concluding I’d like to quote St. Francis of Assisi (later quoted by St. John Vianney): "If I saw an Angel and a priest, I would bend my knee first to the priest and then to the Angel." Do you know why? Because they hold the body and blood of Christ everyday. So better know their power and their worth and behave.

Bye & Take care.

See you tomorrow.

Until then, bye take care.

Meena

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