by ROWENA OREJANA
Priests are called to serve the Lord even during times of infirmity and seeming helplessness.
Auckland Bishop Patrick Dunn shared this reflection during his homily at the renewal of priestly vows Mass at the chapel of the Little Sisters of the Poor-Aged Care in Ponsonby on March 23. The Mass was held for priests who weren’t able to make it to the Chrism Mass because of poor health.
Bishop Dunn said a beautiful spiritual classic written by English Anglican priest Canon Bill Vanstone, The Stature of Waiting, observed that Jesus, particularly in the Gospel of Mark, was very active and dynamic.
Jesus went everywhere, speaking to and healing people and giving instructions to the disciples, Bishop Dunn said. “And then Judas comes along and hands him over. And in St Mark’s Gospel especially, then Jesus has a passive role. He is led away. He is taken to the high priest. He is taken to Pilate. He is taken to Herod. He is crucified. It’s all happening to him,” he said.
Bishop Dunn told the priests the same thing applies to them. “We serve Christ, actively and passively. Things happen in our lives. We can’t control them. But we still serve Jesus,” he said.
“Especially in old age, we lack the independence to be as free or as active as we once were. But we’re still called to be disciples to serve Jesus.”
Bishop Dunn said priests, particularly when they feel frail and helpless, are still conscious of the need to serve “until our last breath”.
He reminded them that infirmity doesn’t stop them from ministering, even in a passive way.
Fourteen priests attended the renewal of the priestly commitment Mass.
Bishop Dunn thanked the Little Sisters of the Poor for their hospitality and for caring for elderly and infirm priests and nuns.