The priest is not an angel sent from heaven;
he is a man chosen from among men,
a member of the Church, a Christian.
Remaining man and Christian, he begins
to speak to you the Word of God.
The word is not his own.
No, he comes to you because
God has told him to proclaim God’s Word.
Perhaps he has not entirely understood it himself.
Perhaps he adulterates it.
But he believes, and despite his fear
he knows he must communicate God’s Word to you.
– Karl Rahner, SJ
The above quote was printed on one of my ordination cards 25 years ago. I’ve lost the card, but I really do not need it because the words are burned into my heart. Oddly enough, when I think back to my diaconate and presbyteral ordinations, I remember more of my diaconate ordination. It was then I promised the ordinary I would be faithful to the Word of God and proclaim it to the People of God in service to them. The ordination to the priesthood was just icing on the cake!
In the past 25 years, I have tried to bring the good news to the poor in psychiatry clinics, medical school classrooms, parishes and retreat houses. Karl Rahner was right; I still do not understand the Word given to me, but I cannot not proclaim it as long as God gives me the breath.