Tuesday, 23 February 2010


The bridal party had just arrived at the church. So I spent the time chatting to a group of small children, beautiful in their wedding attire. Such youngsters are delightful in the way they pass remarks and ask questions without inhibitions. In this they reveal the world they inhabit -one of false impressions and weird misunderstandings.

As I was leaving home for the wedding I had brushed my hand against a rough wall. While the flow of blood had been staunched, my hand looked something of a mess. As all the youngsters expressed their concern one of them surprised me by asking,
"Do priests have blood?"

I mused whether they thought that I, as a priest, was some kind of alien from outer space -such as the beings they see in the sci-fi films on television -non-humans with all sorts of gadgetry sprouting from their heads? Even bloodless.

I was reminded of the time my mother came to stay to stay with me in Barbados, long ago in the 1960s. Curious children came to the presbytery to find out what a priest's mother looked like. It never occurred to them that a priest should have a family background. For them the priest came from beyond and stepped out of a plane, just like an alien descending from a space-craft. These days West Indian children see priests coming from their own families. Now, no problem for them to see priests as ordinary folk, just like them!

And I had breezily assumed that everyone, including children, accepted me as a normal human being! I could understand that my priesthood set me apart from other people and that my sacramental ministry gave me powers not enjoyed by others. But for me it was bizarre that some would assume that I did not belong to the human race.

Of course I'm reading into these episodes more than was ever intended. But this does lead me to reflect on the much bigger issue that people have always had great difficulty in identifying Jesus as being truly, fully God and truly, fully human. No problem in recognising His humanity in the light of His Nazareth family background of Joseph and Mary, His eating meals, wearily sleeping in a fishing boat and finally dying on the cross.

But what to make of his deeds of power -healing the sick, raising the dead, calming storms, feeding multitudes with just a few loaves and fishes? There were those who believed that Jesus must have worked these wonders under the influence of Beelzebub, the Prince of Devils. Such critics could not accept that Jesus might be an exceptionally godly person, even God Himself.

My musing have taken me a long way from the child who wondered if priests have blood, and from those who had to find out if priests had a strange kind of mother. This has forced me to examine how people understand my priesthood. I ask myself what the promotion of local vocations to the priesthood means to young people.

My Way, GOD'S WAY lay through an inquisitive child who wondered if priests have blood, and those who speculated whether he had a strange mother. More importantly, I realise more clearly now how much is being asked of us when we confess that Jesus, Mary's child, is Lord and God.

Peter O.P.
Next week Fr. Isidore will reflect on Meeting God through Confession

1 comment:

  1. But of course, fr Peter, you are a priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedech : who had, if I remember correctly, no family connections of any sort - so it may be that the people who were fascinated to meet your mother were merely very traditionally-minded ! :-)