Skip to comments.25 Years a Priest. A Wondrous Answer to a question both ancient and modern.
Posted on 06/24/2014 1:27:20 AM PDT by markomalley
Twenty-five Years ago today on a blazing hot summer morning in Washington DC at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, I was Ordained a Priest.
Can I tell you a strange truth? I remember nothing of it. I have seen footage of it, but have no personal memory of the event. I dont know why my memory is dead in this matter. Perhaps it is the implausibility of a former agnostic in me saying that I would obey the Cardinal Archbishop of Washington and all his successors. Perhaps it is the hippie of a teenager who listened only to The Who and Arrowsmith accepting a the laying on of hands as the Gregorian Veni Creator was sung. Perhaps it is the cynical stubborn stiff-necked college student with the brass forehead saying that he accepted the mysteries of the faith and would base his life on them.
But there have surely been more dramatic moments in history. Surely the strange even of John the Baptist pointing to Jesus, a full grown man, and calling him the Lamb of God must rank up there with the stranger moments in history.
Yes, even more, on this feast of the Birth of St. John the Baptist we celebrate the Birth of the final Prophet of the Old Testament. He stood at the culmination of the Old Covenant and emphatically pointed to the New. He drew back the curtain on all that that the ancient prophets longed to see. His birth is a great harbinger of a new epoch, the final age of Man. When he points to Christ and then steps back, we see the Old Covenant yield to the new. One era is ending another is beginning. This birthday bespeaks a coming sea change, something is ending, something greater is beginning. Types, symbols and shadows are about to give way to true reality they signified.
A great and dramatic moment in this Old giving way to the New occurs when the two meet by the riverside. (It is true, they had already met in utero, as Mary and Elizabeth shared company. John prefigured this riverside meeting by dancing for joy in his mothers womb at the nearness of Christ). But the drama of this moment at the riverside cannot be overestimated for John supplies a strange and wonderful answer to a question asked 2,000 years before. And the answer he supplies to this question signals that the new has arrived.
To understand the moment we must go back in time to approximately 1900 BC. The place is a hillside called Moriah where Jerusalem would later be built. Abraham has been commended there by God where he has been told to prepare to kill him in sacrifice. Upon arriving at the foot of Moriah the text says,
Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, Father? Yes, my son? Abraham replied. The fire and wood are here, Isaac said, but where is the lamb ? (Gen 22:6-8)
Do not miss the great foreshadowing here: A long promised son, about to die, carrying wood upon his shoulders ascending the very hillside where Jerusalem and Golgotha will one day be located. Yes this is a wondrous foreshadowing.
And then comes the great question to his Father: But, Where is the Lamb? Yes, indeed, where is the Lamb who will die so that I dont have to? Where is the Lamb whose blood will save my life? Where is the Lamb?
Now you know the rest of that story. An angel stopped Abraham and then pointed to a ram, with its horns in the thicket. And you may be excused for saying, Aha, God did provide the Lamb. End of story. But truth be told, this ram, this lamb cannot really save Isaac. Because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins (Heb 10:4) Isaacs death is merely postponed and then it is off to Sheol with him where he will lie and wait for the True Lamb who alone can give eternal life.
And so, that question got wafted up on to the breeze and echoed down through the Centuries that followed: But, where is the Lamb ..where is the Lamb?
And now we are standing by the banks of the Jordan River 19 Centuries later and John the Baptist sees a full grown man coming toward him and says a very strange thing: Look! There is the Lamb of God! (Jn 1:29) Yes, there is the true Lamb who alone can take away our sins. John the Baptist supplies a strange and wonderful, though long delayed answer to a question Isaac asked 1,900 years before. Where is the Lamb? THERE is the Lamb!
Happy birthday of John the Baptist. His birth is the culmination of an age, an era, a Covenant. He is the last of the Old Testament Prophets. His birth signals an end and a beginning. The Book of Hebrews says By calling this covenant new, [God] has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear (Hebrews 8:13). Hence John would later say, The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegrooms voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must increase; I must decrease. (John 3:29-30).
And happy anniversary for me, a strange stand-in for Jesus, but somehow chosen by him and ordained by him 25 years ago today. I do not answer the question Where in the Lamb? but rather, What is he doing here? At the end of the day, the answer can only be rooted in the mercy of God who takes away the sins of the world, and of Charles Pope and says, Youll do, though it will take a lot of grace. I know only this, I am unfit to untie his sandal.
May God be praised for the mystery of his plan and the surprise of how he fulfills ancient promises: Even Me Lord, a strange stand-in for the Lamb of God, but here I am. Not sure I signal the beginning or end of anything; just a continuation of the ministry of the Lamb of God, who answered an age-old question, and fulfilled an ancient dispensation. And Just like John, who pointed to Jesus, here am I doing the same. Thank you Jesus. The bride is all yours, I am but a worthless Groosman, but do have pity on me and help me to rejoice with you in your bride
Msgr Pope ping
I have studied the Bible for 30 years and do not understand where this man is coming from...he’s the groomsman? huh? Is this the Nicolaetean system Jesus said he hates? Boy will he be surprised when he reaches eternity.
That’s a very well-fed John the Baptist in the picture.
Thanks for being the “turd in the punchbowl” on what I thought was a beautiful and uplifting thread. Catholic haters gonna hate, I guess.
Ping for later.
I thought it was a good essay as well.
LOL! Yes, John was quite the “sight” IIRC.
I did as well. I guess I never realized that it was 1900 years between Issac and John. Never did the math before.
It doesn’t look like the build of a man who is living on locusts and wild honey.
No and from what I understand he had never cut his hair or beard and they weren’t that big on bathing back then. Funny how the powers that be thought he was crazy but they were also afraid of him. :)
I always loved how Jesus would leave 100 people to go look for the one in trouble. I guess the pictures of that stay with you forever. The Good Sheppard.
Yes, that's a very interesting point. They were seeing something more than just a "crazy homeless man."
Be about the 3rd grade, they’d be into the blood and gore!
I think you might have been reading a little too much into it.
But, I am not a biblical scholar. I DO know that God is God. Ant man suggestion otherwise is deluded.
I can see how a giant whale would be popular with everyone!
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“I have studied the Bible for 30 years and do not understand where this man is coming from...”
Wouldn’t the problem then lie with you and not the priest in question? After all he has studied the Bible as long as you have and much more deeply.
“hes the groomsman? huh? Is this the Nicolaetean system Jesus said he hates?”
No. I suggest you learn how to spell Nicolaitan before you accuse people of following it. And you studied the Bible for 30 years?
“Boy will he be surprised when he reaches eternity.”
By the look of things you’re in for a bigger surprise.
Happy 25th Jubilee, Monsignor Pope!
Blessings galore and prayers too!
The Birth of Saint John the Baptist [Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
Living Faith: John the Baptizer teaches us the Way to Happiness and Freedom
SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST THE PRECURSOR
THE BIRTH OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
John the Baptist, an Enduring Model of Fidelity to God
Birth of John the Baptist by St Augustine
Birth of St. John the Baptist, Feast: June 24
Homilies preached by Father Robert Altier on the Solemnity of the Birth of Saint John the Baptist
Nativity of the Forerunner John the Baptist, June 24
Saints John The Baptist, Zachary and Elizabeth [THE BIRTH OF ST JOHN THE BAPTIST]
boy aren’t you sweet...
As a graduate of Sacred Heart Academy, I just questioned this man’s equation of himself with Yahshua the bridegroom. Yahshua’s followers are the bride. You however, with the position you took and the language you used, must be confused as to who he is saying he is and who you are.
Have a nice day.
“Groomsman” and “bridegroom” are not the same person.
groomsman and bride are not the same person...Believers are the Bride of Christ.
“I always loved how Jesus would leave 100 people to go look for the one in trouble.”
He does, too; never doubt that.
“As a graduate of Sacred Heart Academy, I just questioned this mans equation of himself with Yahshua the bridegroom.”
Groom’s man, not groom.
Groomsman - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A groomsman is one of the male attendants to the groom in a wedding ceremony.
Maybe it was locust pizza and wild honey beer.
I admit I’ve been the lost clueless one and he always comes for me.
LOL - or wild honey mead!