When I first entered seminary, the big question I had was: “Will priesthood be enough?”
Over the past six years, the Lord has gently answered this question for me in an unexpected way: “No, the priesthood is not enough.”
“….But I am enough.”
The Lord is enough!
If this is true, and if I really believe it — then why do I find myself unsatisfied so often? Why do I look around at what’s happening in the world and feel kind of cheated? Bamboozled? As if some explanation was owed to me?
I’ve come to believe that this pandemic, social unrest, and so much of the rage, fear, and division we see on media outlets every day are an invitation from the Lord to ask an even more fundamental question:
“Is the Lord really enough for me?”
If everything else gets taken away — my freedom, my plans, my expectations, my control — am I still ok with following this Jesus? Am I still willing to lay my life down for Him?
Or has my love for God been far more “conditional” than I ever thought possible? Have I been praying all this time, “Thy will be done, Lord” while adding secretly in my heart: “but not THAT, Lord! Never THAT! You can’t take that away from me. I’m not willing to give You THAT.”
The plain fact is: He demands everything from us.
We don’t get to choose our crosses. We don’t get to choose how we die. The Coronavirus in particular has made this very clear to me. I’m as frustrated as the next person about the restrictions we are being asked to abide by. It’s getting harder and harder to take any of the news seriously with reports wildly contradicting each other on a constant basis. It’s confusing and disorienting.
This is hard. Really hard for all of us.
Like so many others planning graduations and weddings (and worst of all, funerals) over the past few months, I’ve had to grapple with the fact that my ordination to the priesthood will look dramatically different than anyone would have expected. At one point, it looked like I was only going to be able to invite as few as ten people to the celebration! I assure you, many many more than ten people have made it possible for me to persevere through seminary and make it to this point! Now thankfully, that has expanded a bit, and for that I’m grateful.
And yet I return to my earlier question again: “Is the Lord enough for me?”
Am I willing to sacrifice my life out of love for the Church of Richmond even if it ends up just being me and the bishop and not another soul — except for the invisible multitude of all the angels and saints? Do I still believe the priesthood of Jesus Christ is worth it? Do I still choose my vocation even if it’s hard?
How fragile everything truly is! Nothing is guaranteed except God’s love for us.
It’s occurred to me that even now — just under two weeks away from ordination day — everything could still change! What happens if I come into contact with someone who tests positive for the virus in the next week? Perhaps I’d have to be quarantined from my own ordination! What if my mom and dad register a fever the morning of my ordination and are forced to stay in quarantine? Am I ok prostrating myself on the marble even without them in the pew behind me?Am I ok with a more hidden, small, poor ceremony? Jesus says “Blessed are the poor.” Is that really ok for me? If I’m going to follow this Jesus of Nazareth, a man well acquainted with sorrows, I better get used to being poor — I better get used to making sacrifices!
Jesus ought to be enough for us. Stripped of all else, He truly is enough. Let us ask for the great and supernatural faith to believe this down to our bones!
These days are an opportunity for us to grow in asceticism. This is a chance to be refined in the fires of discomfort and inconvenience. Let’s not miss this chance to grow closer to the Lord, who absolutely is always enough.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”2 Corinthians 12:9