Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

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Homily 126 – 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Priesthood Sunday

This Sunday the Church gives us a day to celebrate priesthood. It also happens that All Saints Day is tomorrow. As we look at the history of the priesthood we are thankful for all the great saints that God has called to this ministry and the many ordinary priests that have impacted our lives.

When we look at the beginning of the New Testament priesthood, we of course look at the apostles. If one were going to pick the perfect group of people to lead a new church, one can hardly imagine picking this group. One would expect to find Pharisees and Sadducees and scribes. Certainly if one were looking for someone perfect, the Blessed Mother would have been the ideal priest. Instead we find this imperfect and sinful bunch of fishermen, tax collectors, zealots, and even traitors. What was Jesus thinking?

Perhaps his was thinking that he wanted it to be perfectly clear that the Church will not achieve its mission and be successful because of the superb and perfect leadership of its priests. No, the Church is what it is today solely because of Jesus Christ, the one perfect high priest. Priesthood Sunday is necessarily a celebration of the priesthood of Jesus.

As we look beyond the apostles, we find quite a diverse group of saints who were priests. We’ve got great intellectual powerhouses like St. Thomas Aquinas or St. Augustine. We’ve got humble confessors like the Cure of Ars and heroic martyrs like St. Maximilian Kolbe. Yet, probably the priests that are most special to us are the ones we have known, the ones that have touched our lives.

Today we are grateful for all those priest who have been there to help us when we’re down, to share our joys, to provide wise counsel, and to provide the sacraments. Priests have always been just your average sinners that God chooses to do something miraculous. Pray for them today. Pray for more of them. Most of all, be thankful today for the gift of the priesthood.

The Beautiful Hands of a Priest

We need them in life’s early morning,
We need them again at its close;
We feel their warm clasp of true friendship,
We seek it while tasting life’s woes.

When we come to this world we are sinful,
The greatest as well as the least.
And the hands that make us pure as angels
Are the beautiful hands of a priest.

At the altar each day we behold them,
And the hands of a king on his throne
Are not equal to them in their greatness
Their dignity stands alone.

For there in the stillness of morning
Ere the sun has emerged from the east,
There God rests between the pure fingers
Of the beautiful hands of a priest.

When we are tempted and wander
To pathways of shame and sin
‘Tis the hand of a priest that absolve us.
Not once but again and again.

And when we are taking life’s partner
Other hands may prepare us a feast
But the hands that will bless and unite us,
Are the beautiful hands of a priest.

God bless them and keep them all holy,
For the Host which their fingers caress,
What can a poor sinner do better
Than to ask Him who chose them to bless

When the death dews on our lids are falling,
May our courage and strength be increased
By seeing raised o’er us in blessing
The beautiful hands of a priest.

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