VATICAN CITY, 19 FEB 2010 (VIS) - During his meeting yesterday with parish priests of the diocese of Rome, Benedict XVI commented on certain verses from the Letter to the Hebrews.
Beginning with the Old Testament view of the Messiah, and comparing it to what Christ actually represented in the history of salvation, the Pope noted how "Christ is the true King, the Son of God. But He is also the true priest, and thus all worship, all the reality of sacrifices, ... and of the true sacrifice, finds its key and its fulfilment in Christ".
Thus, he explained, does the priest "emerges in all his pureness and his profound truth". And he went on: "A priest, in order truly to be a mediator between God and man, must be a man, and the Son of God became man precisely in order to become a priest, in order to accomplish the mission of a priest. ... This is the mission of the priest: ... to be a mediator, a bridge that unites and thus brings man to God, to His redemption, to His true light, to His true life".
If the priest is a "bridge" bringing humankind into communion with the divinity, his soul must draw nourishment from constant daily prayer and from the Eucharist, said the Pope.
"Only God", he went on, "can enter my life and take me by the hand. ... Ever and anew we must return to the Sacrament, return to this gift in which God gives me what I could never give. ... A priest must truly be a man of God, he must know God up close", and he achieves this "in communion with Christ. We must live this communion".
Benedict went on to point out that the life choice priests to make requires them to develop their feelings and affections in accordance with God's will. This conversion is anything but simple if we consider the misleading self-indulgence that lies in the modern mentality, he said.
"Thus do people say: 'He lied, he is human. He robbed, he is human'. But this is not the true human being. Human means being generous, human means being good, human means being a person of justice. ... And so, to leave behind, with Christ's help, this cloud over our nature ... is a life process which must begin with education to the priesthood then continue throughout our life".
A priest, who is above all other things a completely-fulfilled man, has a heart dedicated to "compassion". Sin is not a sign of "solidarity" with human weakness; rather, such solidarity is evident in the strength to share the burden of sin in order to redeem and purify it, showing the same capacity for emotion which Jesus showed during His life, and which enabled him to carry His cry of compassion "unto the ears of God".
"We priests cannot withdraw into exile", said the Pope. "We are immersed in the passion of this world and must, with the help of Christ and in communion with Christ, seek to transform it and lead it towards God".
Finally, on the subject of obedience, the Pope said: "It is an unpopular word in our time, when obedience seems like a form of alienation, an attitude of servility. ... Yet on the contrary, ... the word 'obedience' and the word 'freedom' are inseparable, ... because the will of God is not a tyrannical will; ... rather, it is the place where we find our true identity".
AC/PRIESTHOOD/ROMAN PASTORS VIS 20100219 (600)