Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
Priest: Ambassadors of Christ
Today’s meditation theme is Priests: Ambassadors of Christ. When we consider the term Ambassador in our context, it represents a nation and he/she articulates the nation's view rather than their personal views and interests. So, the term Ambassador is mainly related to the word representation. The word representation can be written in another way, which means representation is re-presenting or re-articulating Christ in the midst of people. So, a priest means re-articulating Christ’s life, words, and deeds and interpreting them meaningfully for the faith community. A priest is not a set-apart person, a priest is a living presence among the faith community. The authenticity of the priest is always connected with God and the faith community. The assigned portion picturizes the imageries of Christ. Christ says that he is a good shepherd, door, and life for the community. These three imageries articulate a new paradigm for the history of the faith community. In today’s context, the community or the society shows the shrinking of social spaces, fascism, narrow mindset, and othering. Here, Jesus’ imageries good shepherd, door, and life for the community are a radical vision for our present context. These imageries transform our everyday life and re-imagine our life world.
1. Good shepherd: the symbol of care
We used to consider the term care in a simple manner. But the present context and realities or the signs of the time insist we consider the term 'care' seriously. The word care is not a word related to charity. The word signifies or shows the responsibility of the person or the community. Care or caring for the neighbors is the responsibility of the faith community towards the secular world. The story of the Samaritan shows this great truth. Care or caring for the community transcends our barriers, gender, and other narrow visions. The pandemic reveals the picture of the marginalized community, those who are not getting proper care from their neighbors. So, care is a spiritual, political, and also a faith response toward the neighbor. Priest and faith communities are a part and parcel of the responsible commissioned people chosen to extend care. Care is always related to compassion. Compassion needs to be interpreted or conceptualized in civic, mutually respectful, and covenantal terms. Care or caring for others is a covenantal activity of the church towards the broken world.
2. Door: symbol of becoming nature
The second imagery 'door' reveals it as a starting point to enter inside and go outside. We can go further through an example, the door of the church is giving an entry point to come inside of the church, and similarly, it gives an entry point to contact the outside world. The door is an entry point, creates relationships, and also extends an open nature. These qualities of the door symbolizes the habit of becoming. It always challenges the stagnant, constant, and monolithic natures, instead it shows a new becoming nature to include all people. This becoming nature provides a new relationship with Christ and the church. The symbol of the door is an invitation to the faith community to participate in God’s continuing mission in this beautiful world. But here priests, churches, or the faith community need renewal for becoming a new creation.
3. Life: a symbol of relationship
The third imagery shows the fullness of life. Life or the fullness of life related to the web of relationships. The proper relationship with God and the faith community designs our life more beautifully. In the given biblical portion, Jesus Christ challenges all the oppressed forms existing in the church and the society and provides the fullness of life with good relationships. The present world creates more hindrances to good relationships. Hindrances towards relationships are actually a threat or risk towards the fullness of life vision. The caste, creed, politics and religion divides the people and challenges the proper relationship in the public realm. So, as a priest or as a faith community, our responsibility is to create meaningful relationships and meaningful community in the midst of challenges. In Christian arena, we had a good amount of people who exhibited a proper vision in their life. They had no vested interest to gain for their community. But they stand for all people. Their vision was life and it was the symbol of relationships. Today the church and the community need a new leadership and generation to support the vision of life and relationship to create a new world.
God, we are here, resend us as ambassadors of Christ, forgive our mistakes……..Amen
Higher Studies, United Theological College Bangalore