by Fr. P. J. Tansey
Fishers of men
TO say that we are living in a changing world is now a cliché. It is not so much the fact but the pace of change which is so bewildering. As Cardinal Suenens observes, each decade we enter a new century.
While old forms of thinking and living are being subjected to a universal crucible, what, we may well ask, will survive? What will be left to shape the civilisation of the future?
Ultimately, the answer must be Christ. "He has died; He is risen; He will come again." But, this faith of ours immediately involves his priesthood in the world of tomorrow. "You have not chosen me. It is I who have chosen you. I am appointing you to be the fishers of men. Launch out into the deep."
As a living, fishing is a dangerous, lonely, and risky business. "We have laboured all the night and we have taken nothing." As a recreation, of course—and from the fish's point of view—it is sometimes a worm at one end and a fool at the other. But, the priesthood of Christ is neither a living nor a recreation. It is His vocation to a future which is present only to God. "Pray ye, therefore, the Lord of the harvest to send labourers into his vineyard."
The anatomy of the priesthood was revealed to us by the Vatican Council. Through baptism all the people of God share in the mission of Christ to the world. It is, therefore, no longer a question of "them" and "us." We are all in this thing together. So, we either hang together now or hang separately hereafter. Like the crucifixion, Christianity takes place "outside the walls."
St. John Bosco rightly placed the crisis of priesthood outside the walls of convention, and inside the home. "Wherever there are two or three gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Priests come from parents and not from paradise.
The great German theologian, Fr. Rahner, sees Christianity as the religion, not of the immediate but of the absolute future. Meanwhile, it seems, that one man must continue to die for the people. The alter Christus of tradition must become the alter ego of transition. "Jesus Christ, yesterday, today, and the same forever."
Watchman, therefore, what of the night?