Commentary on 2 Cor 5:14-6:1; Ps 148; John 3:29-36
The two readings reflect the selfless nature of these five priests in bringing God to their people and bringing their people to God. The Gospel is from a passage in John where John the Baptist is making his relationship with Jesus very clear. People were telling him that Jesus was baptising on the other side of the Jordan and attracting large numbers. John was not in the least upset. He knew that his task was to prepare for the coming of Jesus and then for him to fade into the background. As he put it, “He must increase, I must decrease.” This was the way that these priests saw themselves. All that mattered was that their people opened their hearts to God.
And speaking of Jesus John the Baptist says, “The one who comes from above is above all.” And of himself, “The one who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of earthly things” while “the one whom God sent speaks the words of God.” The role of John the Baptist is duplicated in the lives of all these priests who saw themselves as bringing Jesus and his Gospel into the lives of the people they served so selflessly.
The First Reading from the Second Letter to the Corinthians begins with Paul’s well-known saying, “The love of Christ urges us forward” which was surely the driving force in the lives of these priests. And they would also surely identify with Paul’s statement, “From now on we regard no one according to the flesh.” They saw every person, even the most sinful, as children of God.
Their work was to bring people back to a closer relationship with Christ. Because “whoever is in Christ is a new creation…” And speaking words that could be applied to these priests, Paul says, “All is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation… So we are ambassadors for Christ…” And finally, Paul speaks words which these priests would have addressed to their people, “We appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.”
These are still the qualities that we wish to see in all our priests but not only in our priests but in every practising Christian. The living out of the Gospel and showing that it is the way for all to follow is the responsibility of every baptised person whether we are parents, teachers, civil servants, involved in business, in the media – everywhere.