Maryknoll Vocation Ministries is a service to the Maryknoll Society.
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February 10, 2015

The Identity of the Priest

The priest is first of all a minister of the Word of God. He is consecrated and sent forth to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom to all, calling every person to the obedience of faith and leading believers to an ever-in-creasing knowledge of and communion in the mystery of God, as revealed and communicated to us in Christ.
For this reason, the priest himself ought first of all to develop a great personal familiarity with the Word of God. Knowledge of its linguistic or exegetical aspects, though certainly necessary, is not enough. He needs to approach the Word with a docile and prayerful heart, so that it may deeply penetrate his thoughts and feelings and bring about a new outlook in him—the mind of Christ (1 Co2:16) - such that his words and his choices and attitudes may become ever more a reflection, a proclamation and a witness to the Gospel (cfJn8:31-32).

The priest ought to be the first “believer” in the Word, while being fully aware that the words of his ministry are not “his”, but those of the One who sent him. He is not the master of the Word, but its servant. He is not the sole possessor of the Word; in its regard he is in debt to the People of God.  Precisely because he can and does evangelize, the priest, like every other member of the Church, ought to grow in awareness that he himself is continually in need of being evangelized. He proclaims the Word in his capacity as “minister”, as a sharer in the prophetic authority of Christ and the Church.

Saint John Paul II

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