Saturday, August 13, 2005

Missionary Presence

The religious priests—priests and nuns are good at dramatic scenes:
“Now you see, now you don’t.”
“Now you arrive, now you depart.”
“Now you pack, now you unpack.”

Disappearing, packing and departing are descriptive of a religious. They have to, in imitation to their Master who claimed, “foxes have holes, the birds have their nests but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head on.”

He has to move on, trying to be present to all persons: to be among the least of the brethren, among the “Lazarus,” among the “Levis,” among the “Zacheus.” At times, he has to play the role of a “Samaritan,” of a “Joseph of Arimathea,” of a “Veronica,” or a “Mary.”

A religious is to be present everywhere to everyone for the simple reason that he wants to be the “leaven” to those blinded by the “golden calf,” to be “fishers of men,” to be the “salt” to those tasteless, blank-staring soul.

Wanting to be present to all spectrum of human activities and be of service to all regardless of color and culture, there is but one place of convergence—the ALTAR where the pilgrims have to refill their expended energy, “Come, all those who are burdened and I will give you rest.”

Many a role a priest may take along the way: he might be an organizer, a liberator, a pilot, a farmer, a carpenter, but none among these can be the hallmark of priesthood. Only when he ascend the Altar and presides the “breaking of the bread” and proclaim the summit news of Faith that the “Lord is risen,” that he is recognized as a priest. From this very Altar the priest receives the commission-mandate, “Do this to remember Me…you also was one another’s feet: blessed are you if you put it into practice.” (Jn 13:15-17).

This mission-order from the Altar, this ascending to the Altar preconditions his descending to the “vineyard,” to the world, to “wash the feet” of the pilgrim people.

So limited in space, so short in time is our historical presence.

Somehow, someday we have to ascent without descending, departing without arriving, without our luggage, without our schedule notebook for we are swift up by an apocalyptic calesa into the spaceless, timeless NOW.