Our poetry offering this week is from one of my favorite poets, the much loved Kerry poet, Brendan Kennelly. It’s likely he will be a regular guest in Pizza and Poetry. I was drawn back once again to the poem Begin, perhaps because I am trying to begin again here in St. Patricks and St. Brigid’s. Though even a cursory glance at Kennelly’s words reminds us that to begin is actually part of who we are.
As I reflected these past few days on the nation of beginning again I suppose it was inevitable that I found myself asking, what do I actually want to begin again, which quickly became what is it that’s important? What is it that I want to give time and energy to?
Now I am sure for all of us, somewhere in the answer to this question, is those we love, relationships, our work, our hobbies and interests. It’s fascinating to think that there is something, or more accurately someone, that can give all this substance and meaning. Obviously the words faith, religion, Church, and indeed God himself, all form part of what I am talking about. However the most specific and beautiful way I can state it must be rooted in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.
When God spoke, he said Jesus. Jesus is the smile of God. Jesus is God’s way to be human. God becomes one of us in Jesus. What an amazing gift the Incarnation is to us. That God became flesh. That God became flesh and lived among us.
I suppose we all have hobbies and interests. Priests are no exception, mine include: reading, travel, genealogy, cooking, movies, and dogs. Somewhere in here are the things that we are passionate about: family, learning, adventure and so forth.
I consider myself very blessed in that I love being a priest. Sure I am realistic enough to acknowledge the turbulent times priesthood has come through. We have a greater sense now of a flawed or broken priesthood. It is horrible indeed when priesthood becomes proud and arrogant, self serving and abusive in so many ways. That said, it is still a beautiful vocation. Just as your own vocation as wife, mother, dad, husband, committed baptised Catholic, is very beautiful.
I think I love being a priest because no two days are the same and so much of it is about being with peaple in the highs and lows of life. I love that the priest is specifically called to celebrate the Eucharist and break God’s Word. Most of all I love being a priest because of the intensity of the call to have a deep personal relationship with Jesus of Nazareth. What many forget is that it’s not just priests and religious who are called to this, but in fact, this is offered to all of us.
When we get serious about knowing Jesus. When we give it time. When we put in the work. When we are generous enough to say that we want to come to know Jesus better and we follow through with the time and effort that this requires, then very quickly the rewards start to surprise us.
Suddenly we are in the fear and anger and shame of Joseph and Mary in the lead up to their marriage. We are in the mess of the crib. We sense the terror of being hunted by the lunatic, King Herod. We grapple with the simple humanity of the five year old Jesus. Soon we plunge into fascinating questions like, when did Jesus know he was God’s Son?
It is then we know that the adventure of coming to know Jesus, to some degree to understand him and in our own limited way to love him, amounts to the most exciting and thrilling journey of our life.
Definitely, more anon, but for now, fraternally, Joe McD