In episode 2 of season 3 of ‘The Chosen,’ Jesus gathers his 12 following the sermon on the mount. They are on a high after the impact it had on the numbers present. They are in awe of him, and after witnessing his miracles, they believe he is the Messiah they have been waiting for and are full of enthusiasm and excitement for the future. Then Jesus tells them that he can’t do it on his own. He needs them to go out in twos to spread the message and carry on his work. This reduces a group of joyful and confident disciples into very frightened men full of self-doubt. One by one they say to Jesus, “So we are to heal the sick, and cast our demons?” I like this scene because I see it repeated in every parish whenever the priest, at the mass, tells the congregation in his homily that they are called to carry on the mission of evangelization. The people clearly are of the opinion that this is the “Father’s job” and not theirs.
It is a funny mentality because in the past the assumption was that the ordained priesthood’s mission was to get souls to heaven, and the world was a sorrowful and wicked place, best left alone. The laity had to deal with it, but that was their lot. The Clergy had to stay as clear of it as possible. But if the task of the Church is to evangelize the world, the relationship between the clerical Church and the Lay Church alters fundamentally. Not only are the Clergy not going to be able to do it on their own, they are not going to be able to do it at all. If they are not where the world is, then it will not be their space. In the past, collaborative ministry was seen as the laity ‘doing jobs for Father.’ But the reality is more likely to be the clergy collaborating with the laity. The priestly vocation will not start to make sense until that adjustment in thinking has been made.
Fr. Ray Sanchez CP is the leader of the Oxley community and is responsible for Parish Missions and Retreats throughout Australia and NZ.