How do we gain credibility?
It's a question every priest, consecrated person and anyone with some special vocation and mission in life should ask himself frequently. If politicians, salesmen and advertisers continually examine themselves against this standard, how much more those of us who are entrusted with a divine mission to serve the People of God in their spiritual needs!
In this Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons, let us pray that the Pope, bishops, priests and those with some special divine vocation and mission be always credible in their preaching and, more importantly, in their lifestyle.
I imagine that to be truly credible, we have to be vitally identified with Christ so that what was said of him can also be said of us. Let's remember that when he entered a synagogue in Capernaum and began to preach, the people were astonished because he preached with authority unlike the scribes. (cfr. Mt 7,29) He always attracted big crowds.
We priests, religious and all those with special vocations should aim at acquiring the credibility of Christ. This will obviously require that we learn to assume the very mind and heart of Christ. This would presume, aside from being sacramentally conformed to Christ as head of the Church and receiving a special vocation, that we pray always, thoroughly study the doctrine of our faith, wage constant struggle and renewal, etc.
The idea is that we live out what Christ first told the apostles—that those who hear the apostles, actually would hear Christ and the one who sent Christ. (cfr Lk 10,16) There should be a stable consistency between who we are and for whom we work.
Everyday, we have to see to it that we grow in our identification with Christ to such an extent that we can confidently say that we are only thinking of God and of the others, that we are only talking about God and that everything else that is earthly and temporal is always related to God. That should be orbit of our thoughts, words and deeds.
Let us hope that we can arrive at that point when we can feel very much at home with the things of God and the spiritual needs of the people, and when we can talk with ease and with conviction about God and the people.
Let us hope that, like Christ, we can offer the proper truths of our faith relevant to a particular issue or concern. And that we can convey these truths with charity, knowing how to adapt them properly to the concrete circumstances of the people, times and place.
Let us hope that people can see in us Christ himself. Our lifestyle should be such that people get inspired to love Christ and everybody else more and more when they see and listen to us.
This is not an easy thing to do, of course. In fact, it can seem to be impossible. But with God's grace and our humble and constant effort, we can hack it. Christ has given us everything so that his presence and redemptive work can still continue with us and through us.
We just have to train ourselves to abidingly identify ourselves with Christ and with the people. For this, we have to submit to an appropriate plan that would help us to revolve our thoughts, words and deeds around Christ and the needs of the people.
And so we have to find time for quiet and intimate meditations and reflections, ever strengthening and sharpening our awareness of God's presence and his will and ways.*
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