Stewards of the Mysteries of God
Friday of the 22nd Week in Ordinary Time

Doug McManaman
Reproduced with Permission

“Brothers and sisters: Thus should one regard us: as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God”

That verse from First Corinthians stood out for me when I went over the readings, because the other day at school I saw the poster of last year’s Ordinandi, and on it was written: Stewards of the mysteries of God.

That never struck me before, but it struck me the other day when I saw it: “Stewards of the Mysteries of God.” I thought, yes, that’s what a priest is; he is not a social worker, he is not a religious therapist or psychologist, he is a steward of the mysteries of God, in particular the mystery of the Incarnation, Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ.

That is such a good line to have in that poster, because so many Catholics just do not know what they have; so many of us are not aware of the supernatural riches that are ours. I’ve been in a number of high schools within the past 24 years, and each school had a beautiful chapel with a tabernacle, containing the Blessed Sacrament, and yet rarely would I see a colleague in the chapel during the day sitting before the Blessed Sacrament. I don’t say that in a spirit of cynicism or blame. I believe it was the result of a particular kerygma or preaching that failed to underscore the Real Presence and the true nature of the Mass as a real sacrifice, which led many to regard the priest not so much as steward of the mysteries of God, but as a sort of religious therapist or counsellor.

It was good to see that poster, because it featured young men. What it said to me, among other things, was that this secular, over-sexed culture, hostile towards the priesthood, was not able to keep these young men from giving themselves completely to Christ. You know one of them, Father Eric Rodriguez, and of course our own Father Luis is in the latest poster.

Would Father Eric and Father Luis really give up married life in order to be a glorified therapist or religious counsellor? No way. They gave up marriage and family life for something mysterious, something incalculably greater than anything the world can provide. They have become stewards of the mystery of Calvary, the mystery of Good Friday, which is made present in the here and now, at every Mass. Christ makes present, through the ministry of the priest, his own sacrifice, such that when we are present at an ordinary Mass, you and I are just as present at the foot of the cross as Mary and John were two thousand years ago.

The moment that Christ died for us is perpetuated throughout history through the priesthood. We can eat and drink God the Son; Christ gave us himself, because he longs to enter into us and dwell within us. I’ve said this so many times, quoting St. Augustine, that the Lord loves each one of us as if there is only one of us, and if you knew how much God loves you individually, you’d die of joy. He longs to be one flesh with you, which is why he makes himself really and truly present to you and me in the mystery of the Mass. And we can adore him in Eucharistic adoration as we will this morning, and when we do, we contemplate the love that longs to enter into us, a love that compels him to humble himself to the point of being shrouded under the appearance of a small ordinary piece of bread.

And there are people whom he calls to be stewards of that love, to say Mass, to consecrate bread and wine into Christ’s body and blood, so that Christ’s great desire and longing to dwell within you can be realized. It’s really a marvellous thing to be a priest, to be called to do that, to represent Christ the bridegroom, and to be an instrument that makes possible the realization of Christ’s longing to be physically one with his bride, the Church, and to respond so generously to that call.