Dare We Pastors/Priests say “imitate me as I imitate Christ?”
Devotional Discussion thought of the day:
As he was walking by the Lake of Galilee he saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew; they were making a cast into the lake with their net, for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, ‘Come after me and I will make you fishers of people.’ 20 And at once they left their nets and followed him. Matthew 4:18-20 (NJB)
Imitate me, then, just as I imitate Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1 (TEV)
AN ABYSS SEPARATES the priest from the religious functionary; they are qualitatively different. Sadly, however, the priest can be slowly transformed, little by little, into a religious functionary. When that happens, the priesthood ceases to be a bridge, and the priest is no longer a pontifex, a builder of bridges; he ends up simply having a function to perform. He ceases to be a mediator and becomes simply an intermediary. No one chooses to be a priest; it is Jesus Christ who does the choosing. Priestly existence remains true to itself only when it draws deeply on direct encounter with Jesus Christ. The priest must seek the Lord and let himself be sought in return; he must encounter the Lord and allow himself to be encountered in turn. All of this goes together; it is inseparable. (1)
In dicsussion with those I mentor, as we study the scriptures togather, we often talk (okay every week) about the relationship that God desires us to have with Him. To walk with Him, to understand His presence in our lives is not just something that is theoritical of philosophical, but real.
It is what we have to communicate – this relationship that is not idyllic,romanticized Thomas Kikaide version where everything is happy and perfect. Rather it is a relationship where we know His love enough that we are confident to argue with God, to question Him, to ask Him to silence our doubts, our fears An honest, open relationship where we encounter Jesus in the life we live, letting Him minister to us, heal us. As we do, we find ourselves being remade – crafted into fishers of men, even as our Lord fished for us.
Functionaries don’t fish for men. Pastors and priests do,it becomes why we exist, our greatest moments. Whether it is baptising a 90 plus year old, or an infant, It can be seeing one of the people we disciple in the faith having a AHA!!! moment, or joining us among the ordained. And make no mistake, while we disciple some much more deeply, we are making disciples of all whom hear or read our words.
When they point to Christ, when they draw people into that relationship – even as we were drawn into it. That is when we can say imitate me as I imitate Christ. Because we see Him as clearly as we see them. Knowing Him, being in a relatiosnhip where we follow Him, where we seek Him and now we are sought, that is where we find ourselves not demanding that people imitate us, but begging them to imitate us where we imitate Christ.
For it is there were life is,…. a life we’ve come to know… and which we want them to know as well.
Lord, Have Mercy we cry… hoping to help them cry it as well!
(1)Pope Francis; Jorge M Bergoglio (2013-11-18). Open Mind, Faithful Heart (Kindle Locations 266-271). The Crossroad Publishing Company. Kindle Edition.