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Priests: Unique heralds of Divine Mercy

My brother priests,

"The Master has need of it." Those words were spoken to each one of us at some point in our journey of life. The Lord Jesus looked at each one of us, in all our frailty and woundedness, with all our human limitations and also with all the gifts He so graciously had given us. He looked at us with love, and said: "I, Your Master and Lord, need you to be My priest. I need you to act in my Person, making Me uniquely present to the people to whom I send you. I need you to teach the truth in love; to sanctify My people, especially through the sacraments; to shepherd them with compassion and patience. I need you to be the Face of My Father's mercy, since through the Sacrament of Holy Orders, you will be uniquely conformed to Me." At some moment we said "yes," "here am I, I come to do Your will!"

Soon, in my presence and in the presence of this diocesan church, made visible by God's people assembled here, you will renew your priestly promises. In so doing, each one of you is recommitting yourself to be a convincing herald of mercy, a channel of His loving-kindness and compassion. As you seek to be more united with the Lord Jesus and more closely conformed to Him, are you not desiring to be transformed by His mercy so that His mercy can shine through you? As you renew your resolve to be a faithful steward of the mysteries of God, are you not seeking to be more zealous, more on fire, to bring those committed to your pastoral care to taste the mercy of Our Father and to share that mercy with everyone? I, too, shall echo your recommitment as I ask you and all God's people assembled here to pray for me that I too may be faithful to the apostolic office entrusted to me in my lowliness.

In your presence and in the presence of all gathered here, I shall bless the Oil of the Sick, oil that you, dear brothers, will use to anoint those who are burdened with serious illness or increasing old age, asking that they be healed in body, if God so wills, and also in soul, and in spirit, and be delivered from every affliction. In the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick the tender mercy of God becomes so visible. I shall then bless the Oil of Catechumens, which you and also deacons will use in preparing people to be reborn through the Sacrament of Baptism. Again, is not this anointing a tangible sign of God's mercy leading His people to the joy of new birth in the family of His Church? Lastly, I shall consecrate the precious Oil of Chrism, which will be used in the celebration of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders, as well as in the consecration of an altar and the dedication of a new church. Chrism, above all, proclaims how merciful is Our God, Who consecrates His people to be like His own Anointed Son in the various roles of service He assigns to them.

My brothers, everywhere in our priestly life and ministry, God wills that His mercy be present and effective, forgiving His people, healing them and strengthening them for the mandate He gives: to be a convincing herald of mercy and channel of His transforming love and compassion.

Moreover, God wills that His divine mercy transform each one of us and strengthen us even more for the priestly service He desires us to give to His people. Yes, He wills to need us! Why He so wills remains a mystery, but that He so wills is an absolute fact!

Pray with me, my brothers, for the gift of an open and willing heart to not only hear that the Master needs you and me, but also to respond with enthusiasm and fervor: "Here am I, Lord, I come to do Your will. I will be, in You and with You and through You, the Face of the Father's mercy."

As you and I sincerely and joyfully express this prayer, our people rejoice and assist us with their prayers. And we, in turn, pledge to them our very lives in loving service, leading them ever closer to the Lord Jesus, so that they, with us, may be, every day and everywhere, the Face of the Father's mercy and, thereby, a convincing herald of mercy.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016