Last week on his visit to the Diocese of Natal, Archbishop Thabo spoke on the life and work of a priest. He began by saying that the ordained live a strange life. We are called by God to be partners with him in the world. He emphaised that the ordained are not Angels but human beings first. The calling of the ordained is to serve God first and his Church. We are priests for others and never to our selves. He pointed to the ordained when being made into priests are given the charge, "Like Aaron, you will bear the names of your people on your breast in intercesson before the Lord." (APB 1989 p.587) At the Altar as the ordained celebrate mass we stand as intercessors between God and his people, between heaven and earth. It is not the priest who makes Christ present but it is Christ who invites us. Priest are not called to be Christ, hence mass is called the Lord's supper we are merely earthen vessels called by God to this sacred ministry. Our Task is to let God help us reach to others to follow Jesus. Hence the priest at questions during ordination will say, "with God's help,I will." (APB 1989 p. 588) underpinning that this is the work of God. Clergy need to remember that they are fallible and will make mistakes and sometimes we will get it terribly wrong. Thank God for God who know us as better than we know ourselves. The clergy needs to have humility so that one can receive the things of God from the people of God. The ordained need to have Spiritual directors to keep on the straight and narrow. We are fallible human beings after all. Clergy are called to be soaked in prayer and sometimes the ordained will suffer the dark night of the soul. However what matters is that the daily offices are done regardless of state of the priest. Not saying prayers is like not brushing our teeth. Prayer is God's gift, we should have no excuses we should always say the office. The ordianed need to be faithful at prayer and further studies. The ordained need to be fed at the Eucharist and be transformed in the Power of the Holy Spirit. The priest needs to read the whole Bible for it challenges our prejudice and it forces us to read scripture in its rightful context.
Work of a Priest
We face impossible expectations from lay people. The trick is not to be sucked in by these expectations because then as a priest you will lose you connecting with Jesus Christ who is the only expectation. We need to be able to live with our failures and success. The call of priest is a calling from God and not people. The work we do is done in his name and power. This will bear fruit and is depended on God. And not what the clergy says or people say for they can get it wrong at times. No priest is self sufficient. Clergy need to remember that they are not one man band show. The egos that getting in the way push away God, we need to depend on God and not ourselves. As priest one needs to remember that nothing is outside God including the bread and butter issues (politics) The greatest Challenge for the ordained and indeed the priest in the parish is to discern where God is call us.
My name is Barnabas Sibusiso Nqindi, rector of St Barnabas-Bluff. I enjoy a good debate and I love to see people grow in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ