Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles
Today’s readings are wonderfully appropriate for this year of the Priest. The Gospel emphasizes the importance of the priesthood, telling us of how Jesus chose his Apostles to be the special twelve and predecessors of the ordained.
And the First Reading tells us that we, as laity, are all also chosen – fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the house of God.
The documents of Vatican II state,
"The laity derive the right and duty with respect to the apostolate from their union with Christ their Head. Incorporated into Christ’s Mystical Body through baptism and strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit through Confirmation, … they are consecrated into a royal priesthood and a holy people." (n.3)
Since Vatican II, theologians and church leaders have emphasized this priesthood of all the baptized. In realizing our baptismal role as members of a royal priesthood, it is easy to focus on the rights and forget the duties part. We are the Church, and that means that we not only have rights, but we also are responsible for what happens within the Church. It means that we have an obligation to see that our local church community has the resources to pay the bills, but it also means that the growth of our church, the evangelization, the spiritual vitality rests with all of us.
We’ve moved past the day when it is up to the Pastor to determine whether or not "this is a good parish" – We can no longer opt for just saying, "Father will take care of it, let’s ask Father" – and then when things go wrong, it is Father’s fault – not mine. And if we don’t like the priest, we just worship at another church. Isn’t it time that we completely accept our role as fellow citizens with the holy ones?
Perhaps now is the time for all of us ordained and lay to remember that we are united in Christ, all members of God’s family and as such we are all called to love and care for one another. This may mean taking some time to access our roles in our local parishes.
In the Gospel, Jesus took the time to pray before choosing the Apostles, may each of us follow Jesus’ example by praying about our role in today’s Church.
Mary Lou Butler ([email protected])is a former staff member and is now a member of the Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center Board, Sierra Madre, California.