Which might sound like abstruse theologising. What does it mean? It means that priests are to be truly human, refracting back to the people of God the great dignity of the human condition in all its weakness and failure. Priests are filled by the Spirit of God, yet the weakness and emptiness that is filled never leaves us. It is the weakness in which God’s power is made perfect. But it never ceases being weakness, and at times, failure. This is the mystery of the cross and resurrection – life and death – that we carry in our bodies as baptised disciples of Christ. As St Paul says, “always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies.”
To be a priest is to know one’s weakness, perpetually living it, so that the life of Christ might be made manifest. Priests know their sin, but not just as a point of self-condemnation. Indeed, no longer a point of self-condemnation, but a point of grace through faith, a sign of the weakness that brings grace abounding in our lives. Priests are called to direct others beyond guilt and forgiveness to the point of faith in the grace that fills out all human weakness and failure. We don’t ignore sin; it is transformed into a source of grace and the perfect expression of the power of God.
- Recall an act of ministry that was sourced from weakness but revealed God’s power. (Either you as minister or ministered to.)
- Is your past sin sufficiently ‘dealt with’ for it to no longer be merely a point of condemnation but give you a sense of the great dignity of humanity and God’s grace in your life?