Three years seem to pass by so quickly and so many things happened during these three years, and the last two months have been exceptional and perhaps revealing too, especially of my own vulnerabilities and mortality as a human being. It seems that we often take life and others for granted… Never wondering when we will die nor always being present to people especially those important and close to us. Life as it stands with its events are only indicative but never conclusive, because the only conclusion we have is Jesus Christ. (n.b. Fr Ho’s ordination was on 15 October 2013)
I had thought that I was going to preach this weekend in Holy Cross Church but I was mistaken, but nonetheless I would like to share three points that I have taken from the weekend Gospel of the Unjust Judge and Persistent Widow, and it helped me (and help you) to perhaps shed some light on my priestly call spirituality; the call to serve and love.
Persistence in Loving
To persist in loving means to love the entirety of the “You” of the other person. It’s first requisite though, is that I recognize that the “I” in me is loved into existence by God, and this goes the same for all the people around me. What then prevents this loving of the other for the other’s sake? It is when I choose to fall in love with the person, his or her characteristic/s and ceases to see him or her as a person. To be persistent in love is not about falling in love nor about liking, but simply loving the other. “Love one another as I have loved you.” To love with the impulse, purpose and heart of Jesus.
Persistence in Forgiving
Forgiveness is not about who is right or who is in the fault. To persist in forgiving means to recognize first and foremost the other as our brother and sister. It is precisely when I am able to recognize the woundedness of my own finite self that makes forgiveness possible. Is it easy? Definitely not. Possible? Yes. The act of persistently forgiving is the exercise of the will of the heart and mind, and this will is consistently plunged into the love and grace of God. “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.” To forgive is not about condoning the act, but about conferring mercy upon the person because the Lord did it.
Persistence in Returning
Returning to the Lord is an act of being spiritually “thick-skin”. It is not a matter of treating the Lord as a last resort, but because being the imperfect son that I am, I know a Father who is a perfect father, and who is not a perfectionist. I think one of the great mistakes that I, and perhaps many people, make is to think that I need to be holy in order to be present to the Lord, which is utter nonsense.
The Lord takes me for where I am at, but at the same time he is not content with where I am because as I have said many times, we are loved into being and we are created for greatness. The Father lifts me up into his embrace, high above him as any father would, and as he does, he allows me to see the beauty of the world around me. However, thereafter he gently lets me down, and tells me “I will always love you”. It is these words that cause me to return to him unceasingly even when I am in a bad shape or lousy space. “This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased.” – To return to the Father is not a defeatist moment, but about knowing that I am son.
I would like to end this reflection with a prayer taken from Sacerdos in Aeternum (You Are A Priest Forever), and also the ordination video made by the beautiful people of PixelMusica (est. production 2013-14). Please continue to pray for my brothers and I as we labour in the vineyard. May we truly become sacerdos (holy dowry) to the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Lord, make me a better priest today than I was yesterday. May each new day be an opportunity to strengthen my love for you and my desire to serve your people in the ministry of the Word and the sacrifice of the altar. May each person I meet today be you, Lord, present to me in the mystery of the Body of Christ, your Son, in whose name we pray. Amen.