Feast of Saint Andrew, Apostle
In 1972 I was assigned to be an associate pastor at a very large parish in Chicago. I was young and it was a challenging assignment. Right from the start I was very busy celebrating Masses, doing weddings, funerals, baptisms, preaching, visiting the sick, counseling, etc. It was a lot of work and I thought I was doing it all pretty well.
But after about six months, something happened, something I wasn’t expecting. I found myself falling in love with the people. And after a while, my ministry to them was no longer a job but a relationship. I was no longer doing holy things for people. I was being present to them. I was sharing life with them. I was a companion with them on their journey with the Lord.
That has continued down through the years. And I hope it shows to the people whom I serve today. I hope it shows that it is a joy for me to know them. It is a joy for me to be with them. It is a privilege for me to preach and to minister to them.
Today we honor the apostle St. Andrew. I’m sure he too loved the people he was sent out to serve. In reality it is God’s love that flows through us priests. Our vocation is to be instruments of God’s love for his people. Then they in turn can be instruments of that love for those in their families, their schools, their places of work, indeed to all those to whom God sends them.
Jesus says, "Come follow me." (Discipleship). Then he says, "Go, teach others how to follow me." (Apostleship). Jesus is the center and focus of all ministry. His love makes us one.
Fr. Alan Phillip, C.P. is a member of the Passionist Community at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California. http://www.alanphillipcp.com/