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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Furnace of Humiliation

As I am approaching the 10th year of my sacerdotal anniversary (29 June), I was 'nicely' reminded of the implication of my priesthood, as in, what had transpired thus far and what to look out for ahead. That was by way of the 1st reading of Tuesday of 7th Week in Ordinary times (yesterday).

By all accounts, the reading was engaging enough and can be a reminder to all the faithful believers on the proper understanding of what working for or serving the Lord is about.

"... if you aspire to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for an ordeal..." (Eccle 2: 1)

That should put anyone to think twice about such work or service as being 'easy' or 'fun'. In fact this is really a slap on the head to wake us up from our naive or self-serving perception of doing something for God that can take the form of the various ministries in the parish.

But with direct regards my own priestly ministry, it was the verse somewhere in the middle which states about testing: "Whatever happens to you, accept it... in the uncertainties of your humble state, be patient, since gold is tested in the fire, and chosen men in the furnace of humiliation".

I certainly can attest to that since much of my own experiences as a priest thus far have been put through that furnace of humiliation. Those experiences came in all shapes and sizes but all show up the weak and limited domain of a person I am, even as I go about being the unworthy instrument of God's grace. That He continues to allow me this privilege to carry on His work despite my failings and limitations, is a real wonder beyond my understanding. Ever since I began my ministry, every day was a humbling affair for me, in realising this great love of God which was able to rise above all my nonsense and kept me on my path - a path which I strained against from time to time.

Pope Francis, on the 50th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, ordained 10 mento the priesthood for the diocese of Rome. He asked them in his homily to "always be merciful pastors" to their people and not just 'functionaries', to be "mediators" and not 'intermediaries'. This is, of course in line with the call of the priest "to build the house of God, which is the Church, in word and example".

That is the principle which I had been journeying on all along. I know I have still much to learn and many more 'humiliations' to encounter. But, as the Preacher had said, "Trust him and he will uphold you... For the Lord is compassionate and merciful, he forgives sins, and saves in days of distress."

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