Today is Holy Thursday, the day we celebrate The Last Supper and also the sacrament of ordination and the priesthood. Pope Francis gave a beautiful homily this morning on anointing, and that priests are to go out and find the needy, in essence, so that they can bring God’s love to them. He tells his listeners:
We need to “go out”, then, in order to experience our own anointing, its power and its redemptive efficacy: to the “outskirts” where there is suffering, bloodshed, blindness that longs for sight, and prisoners in thrall to many evil masters. . . .It is not in soul-searching or constant introspection that we encounter the Lord. . . (but instead) in faith, go out and give ourselves and the Gospel to others
This was addressed to the ordained, but we Catholics are baptized as joining in Christ’s mission as prophet, priest and king – all of us – so it applies well to the laity also. (We do speak of “the priesthood of all believers”.) Where do we find God? How are we to be in the world? Pope Francis says we should not only do self-help courses and be introspective. We are to look outward and be people for others (very Ignatian), looking for those with the most need. Or as in the Prayer of St. Francis, rather than look internally for what we ourselves might need, we are to look outwardly and see what God would have us do.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
We are not all ordained deacons and priests, but we can all look outwardly to see where there is need around us. Sometimes the need is material, at others it’s emotional or physical – someone may need a lift to the store or to church, someone else may need company, reconciliation, an encouraging word or time to talk (or sit in silence). All of us are called to be instruments of God’s grace, that is, to bring the transforming love of God’s presence to others.