Read Ezra 9:5-9, Tobit 13:2,4,6-8, Luke 9:1-6

“Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics.” (Luke 9:3)

Today's readings present two broad dimensions of priestly ministry: praying for the people and interacting with or rendering service to God’s people. Remember that apart from those ordained, every Christian (by the sacrament of baptism) is also a priest.

In our first reading today, Ezra prays for the people during the evening sacrifice. Ezra wore torn garments, which symbolised contrition. Remember how the king of Nineveh tore his garments and sat on ashes upon hearing the warning of Jonah that Nineveh would be destroyed? God saw this and “repented” from the evil He had planned to do.

The book of Hebrews says: “For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.” (Hebrews 5:1). Jesus began with prayer and ended with prayer. For every priest, prayer is both work (that must be done) and a source of spiritual energy.

In our Gospel passage, Jesus sends the twelve disciples into various towns and villages to interact with the people. This is the second dimension of priestly ministry, and it involves recognising the following: 1. You have power over demons. St. John tells us: “Little children, you are of God, and have overcome them; for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

2. You have the power to cure diseases. St. James says: “Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” (James 5:14-15)

3. You are a preacher of God’s Word. St. Paul says: “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16). Jesus says: “preach as you go”, meaning, preach with your exemplary conduct and not just with your words.

4. You are a traveller, not a settler on earth. Jesus says: “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics.” (Luke 9:3). Falling in love with the things of the world, craving for comfort, luxury and amassing wealth are distractions. St. Peter says: “Tend the flock of God that is in your charge not under compulsion but willingly, not for sordid gain but eagerly.” (Cf. 1 Peter 5:2).

5. You are to be available to the people. Jesus says: “And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart.” (Luke 9:4). Pope Francis would say, “Pastors must have the smell of their sheep.” While we may not live in the same house with our sheep, we must be available to them around the clock.

6. You would face rejection. In sending out his disciples, Jesus also prepared their minds for rejection. Do not assume that people would like you because you are a good person. The closer you are to God, the more enemies you will have. When you are rejected, don’t be dejected; shake off the dust from your feet and move on.

Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, bless my priesthood that it may continue to yield great fruits for your kingdom. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Saint Vincent de Paul, Priest, Liturgical Colour: White. Bible Study: Ezra 9:5-9, Tobit 13:2,4,6-8, Luke 9:1-6).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu