Today Jesus instructs the Apostles that his teaching lies open to them, unlike the crowds who are taught in Parables, because they have the eyes and ears to see, hear, and understand. The more one has, Jesus explains to them, the more one will be given. Though again and again Jesus will have to nudge the apostles along as they compete for the places of honor in the Kingdom. But his teaching is for them and us that we might live with an openness to God.
A brother priest and myself had a conversation this past week reminiscing about some of our college classmates; especially those in the college seminary. Our conversation centered on those who tried to imitate the externals of priesthood, or at least their perception of what priests do and think. They came across as overly pious if not self-righteous. But we observed that only a few of them actually went into major seminary, and of those none were ordained. Our conclusion was that ministry was not what they pretended it to be.
Our faith journey has to be a time of listening and turning to the cross for inspiration and strength. A large part of the reason it seems that people walk away from Church and faith, is that is does not meet up with their expectations. The desire to have some sort of grand spiritual experience in the context of saintly men and women does not exist. They are disappointed when Sin and Evil continues to grasp men and women - even in the Church.
I muse with folks that the reason I am a priest is not the reason I became a priest. Over twenty-seven years it has evolved into a deeper and more complete way of doing Church. Being with a family last weekend I watched two people respond to the moment by moment challenges of parenting, as they worked together, and in subtle ways supported and encouraged the other.
Being an instrument of Christ is this ongoing process of growth, renewal, and using the tools in our spiritual toolbox. The cross cannot remain a piece of artwork, nor a theology to live by. Their is an active desire to seek Christ first in all that we do, overcoming Sin and Evil, striving to do good. Like John's disciples we have to go forward and declare all we have seen and heard.