My Dear People,
In today’s readings, St. Paul is not cowed by persecution and physical suffering. He knows that his crisis is the prelude to abundant spiritual fruit. He knows, also, there are many people within the region who embrace the Gospel. St. Luke records progress and success of acceptance of the word of God; and he also shows that its preachers certainly encounter the cross. The Gospel meets with acceptance everywhere—and with opposition. “Where there are many laurels,” St. Ambrose says, “there is fierce combat. It is good for you to have persecutors: that way you attain more rapid success in your enterprises.”
The Apostles had no difficulty pointing to events to show the Disciples that suffering and difficulties form a part of Christian living. “Cross bearing, toil, anguish: such will be your lot as long as you live. That was the way of Christ, and the Disciple is not above his master.” (J. Escrivá, The Way, 699).
Each one of us has at some time or other experienced that serving Christ Our Lord involves suffering and hardship. To deny this would imply that we have not yet found God. Far from discouraging us, the difficulties we receive spur us on to mature as Christians. This fight sanctifies us and gives effectiveness to our apostolic endeavoring,” (J. Escrivá, Friends of God, 28, 216).
The appointment of elders in each church means that certain Christians were invested with a ministry of government and religious worship, by a liturgical rite of ordination. They share in the hierarchical and priestly ministry of the Apostles, from whom their own ministry derives.
Vatican II teaches that the ministry of priests shares in the authority by which Christ Himself builds up and sanctifies and rules His Body. The ministerial office of priests is essential to the life of every Christian community, which draws its strength from the word of God and the sacraments. Their priesthood, (derives from our Lord), is essentially different from what is called the “priesthood common to all the faithful.” A man becomes a priest of the New Testament through a special calling from God. The priestly life is a sublime vocation which cannot be delegated or transferred to anyone else. It is a lifelong vocation and means that one has to give himself entirely to God. This he can do, with the help of grace, because “we do not claim back our gift once given.”
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Vincent Clemente