vocation of all the 1faithful to share in the priestly work of Christ. What this work is. we see clearly from this Sunday's Mass; He came to give us life, this is why He gave us food to nourish our life.
Life means joy and energy and fruitfulness—the life of Christ in us should have just these qualities. It should make us happy in ourselves and give us that energy we need to spread the joy of Christ's life among others. Above all our spiritual life should bear fruit among others.
The life of a Christian among men should be a blessing on the society in which he lives. It is true we normally think of the priest as being the one who does the blessing, but this is too names an outlook.
Blessing means spreading the joy and peace of Christ. This is done especially in the sacraments and in particular in the Eucharist. But remember that even here priest A ND people are to co-operate to get the final result which is an increase in the life of Christ in the Church..
In the Liturgy the whole public nonhip is performed by the mystical body of Jesus Christ. that is by its head and by its members. (Constitution on the Liturgy. Article 7.) But the Sacred Liturev does not exhaust the whole activity of the Church: she also invites believers to take part hr all activities of chanty, piety and the aPoslohne(Article 9.)
In other words, the life that the faithful receive in the liturgy is not for themselves alone, it is for the whole of society.
This is the way in which the priestly work of Christ for she redemption of the world is carried on. He acts in particular on indi• viduals in the liturgy; these faithful then go out and, strengthened by Christ. spread this effect among those they meet. The active cooperation by the individual is an essential part of Christ's priestly work; the individual Christian is really required to go about blessing others—that is to bring peace and happiness to those he meets.
Failure to behave like this will delay the redemption of the world and it will he our fault; this is the meaning of the parable of the talents. The bishops at the Council were well aware of this. In their very first chapter in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy they say : "The Council desires to impart an ever-increasing vigour of life to the Christian faithful." (Article I.)
The elTect of this is to he that:
for well-disposed members of the faithful, the titterer of the sacraments and sacramentals sanctifies almost every event of their lives —there is hardly any proper use of material things that cannot thus he directed towards the sanctification of !Olen and the praise of God. (Article 61.) We have left everything for too long to the priests. We have expected them to do our part of the work of Christ for us, and having received our own share of the good things of Christ from their hands, we have folded our hands and waited for the world to be converted —by the priests!
The world has remained unconverted and unimpressed because of our own inertia. In fact the public image of our own priests is badly tarnished because of our own social behaviour.
flow can we expect the others to Wen to the priest when they, see that all his efforts produce such a mediocre result in us. The outsiders conclude that this cast of men set apart are out of touch with the realities of life because they sec that their preaching has so little effect on us. So we see that far from making full use of our own part of the priesthood of Christ. we render ineffective the lives of those who have the fulness of Christ's priesthood in them.
In the family. for instance. it is the parents mho bless the children in the first instance with the gift of life. Later an even greater gift is given the children through the parents—the gift of Faith.
Here we sec clearly that it is in the nature of a blessing to he a gift. A benefit is passed from the giver to the receiver and in our sense of the word that benefit is a spiritual gift. a blessing. If we are to bless others we must he first enriched ourselves.
As a Christian parish. are we a blessing to the district in which we live? Suppose the church were closed up and we went away, would we be missed? Would the people feel the poorer? Would they feel that a source of Christian love and joy and service had dried up. that somehow Christ had left the district?
If we are genuine Christians at all that is how people should feel. Christ should be using us as His right hand of blessing. His joy should be reaching out to other people through us. Since blessing is the giving of something, we must first get the joy and peace of Christ ourselves and we do this through the sacraments.
It is for them that we should sanctify ourselves, so that when we leave the church after Mass. filled with the life of Christ, we should carry the blessing of Christ out to those who do riot know Him: "May the blessing of Almighty God come down upon you and stay forever."