Monday, March 29, 2010
While not a 3-Minute Catechesis, we thought we'd share a story written by Deacon Mark. This is a look at the crucifixion of Jesus through the eyes of Barabbas.
"Hello, my name is Yoshua. Oh, I’m sorry, some of you are Greek speakers, you would probably know me better as Jesus. No, not that Jesus. I’m Yoshua Bar-Abbas, Jesus, son of the father.
"I was born and raised here in Judea and it’s been hard to watch what’s happening to our country under Roman rule. They extort taxes from us just to pay the soldiers who are here to keep us under control. And here we are, at the Passover, and what have they done? They’ve increased the guard to “protect” us. They’ve increased the guard to protect their interests! Even Pontius Pilate has come into the city from his palace at the sea to watch over us. Our “friends,” the Romans. Hah!
"I’ve waited all my life for the words of the prophets to come true. Scripture and the prophets all point to our time, now, for the Messiah to come. But where is he? A few years ago I followed the Baptizer, John. He preached that the kingdom of God was at hand and repentance. But, now he’s dead.
"The Messiah is supposed to come and raise up a mighty army and defeat our enemies. We’ll drive out all those who would hope to put us into slavery or to death.
"But where’s the Messiah that Scripture tells us about? I don’t know, but John made me believe that it’s time. I felt that I couldn’t wait any longer for him to make his move. Maybe God wants us to take matters into our own hands. And what better time could there be than during Passover, when the city swells to four times its normal size? That’s why I did what I did. Yesterday, I sneaked up behind a centurion and took his short-sword from its scabbard. Before he could react I made a quick thrust and he lay dead at my feet.
"I called others to join me. “There’s tens of thousands of us and only a few thousand of them. We can overthrow them.” But, no one joined me and I was quickly captured. And I thought that I’d end up being a martyr, and maybe that was God’s plan for me. But even that didn’t happen.
"This morning I was yanked out of my cell, and instead of being taken to Golgotha, I was brought before Pilate, himself. And to my surprise, I wasn’t the only Jesus there.
"The Nazarean, the prophet was there and Pilate was asking the crowd which one of us they wanted released; the son of the father, or the king of the Jews. What chance did I have of being picked against the prophet? Surely the crowd would rather have him freed. But from the back of the crowd came a few voices that shouted, “Bar-Abbas," and they got louder, “BAR-ABBAS” and more joined in, “BAR-ABBAS” until it seemed that everyone was calling my name.
"The next thing I know, I’m being thrown into the street in front of the Praetorium. I started to move away, not waiting for someone to change their mind, thinking myself lucky. But, I couldn’t make myself leave.
"Soon, they brought out the Nazarean, dragging the beam that he was to be crucified on. They had beaten him, and he was bloody and weak. It was all he could do to drag the great beam of wood.
"I still couldn’t leave. I was compelled to follow, puzzled by the humility of this just man. I watched as he slowly made his way out of the city gate near the palace to the place of the skull. They stripped him of his clothes and nailed him to the beam. Then they raised the beam, and I saw his anguish as his weight pulled at the nails. It was only after some people came to take his body away that I stopped to consider all that had happened.
"I can’t believe what they’ve done! This man was innocent! I was guilty, not him! How could they have crucified him and let me live? I’m the criminal. He died for my sins. He died so that I might live!"
© 1998 Mark Bussemeier
Friday, March 26, 2010
In this Year for Priests, we wonder: Why does a man choose the priesthood? What does it take to become a priest? What is the life of a priest like?
Catholic men who answer the call to priestly vocation do so because they feel that God has a plan for them, as He does for us all. It’s a matter of listening to God and cooperating with His will.
Monsignor Richard’s call to the priesthood led him to the seminary, where he spent 12 years. There, he received guidance in knowing himself in order to be better able to serve God’s people. There is also formation in the Tradition of the Church and effectively preaching Scripture.
While some seminarians train to be members of Religious Orders, like Franciscans and Norbertines, Monsignor Richard chose to be a diocesan priest, a priest who serves the people of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. At his ordination, he promised vows of respect and obedience to the Archbishop of Santa Fe and his successors. That was 3 bishops ago! His first assignment was as an assistant at Our Lady of Fatima. He served as pastor in two rural parishes, Mountainair and Vaughn. Priests in rural areas work with lay leaders, but often must do all of the administrative work themselves.
In urban parishes, like ours, there is more delegation of administrative tasks, and more time to focus on spiritual direction. There is also time for personal enrichment; for Monsignor Richard, this would include golfing, flying, reading, and cheering the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Diocesan priests may be appointed by the Archbishop to serve in other capacities. Monsignor Richard has been Vocations Director, Chancellor, Vicar General, and currently Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Affairs Officer. He has served on several boards and committees as well.
While he enjoyed being a diocesan priest, Monsignor Richard had always felt drawn to missionary work. He had an opportunity to do just that, spending three years as a missionary in Peru.
While there are some frustrations – like not being able to do more than listen when people are hurting – there is also joy in being a priest. For Monsignor Richard, fulfillment comes in assisting parishioners in their relationship with God and celebrating the sacraments and rites at pivotal points in people’s lives. He enjoys being invited into people’s lives. We ask for God’s grace on Monsignor Richard as he continues to live and love his vocation as priest.