Today’s Gospel was the story of the rich young man who is challenged by Jesus to sell all he has and give his money to the poor. It’s a story that always makes me smile because the very people who say that every word of Scripture must be taken literally are usually the first to reinterpret this story so that it doesn’t apply to them! It’s a story that challenges anyone in the Anglican priesthood.
The pre-1987 ordination service in the Church of Ireland sets forth the duties of a priest in blunt terms:
” . . .have in remembrance, into how high a Dignity, and to how weighty an Office and Charge ye are called: that is to say, to be Messengers, Watchmen, and Stewards of the Lord; to teach, and to premonish, to feed and provide for the Lord’s family; to seek for Christ’s sheep that are dispersed abroad, and for his children who are in the midst of this naughty world, that they may be saved through Christ for ever.
Have always therefore printed in your remembrance, how great a treasure is committed to your charge. For they are the sheep of Christ, which he bought with his death, and for whom he shed his blood. The Church and Congregation whom you must serve, is his Spouse, and his Body. And if it shall happen that the same Church, or any Member thereof, do take any hurt or hindrance by reason of your negligence, ye know the greatness of the fault, and also the horrible punishment that will ensue. Wherefore consider with yourselves the end of the Ministry towards the children of God, towards the Spouse and Body of Christ; and see that ye never cease your labour, your care and diligence, until ye have done all that lieth in you, according to your bounden duty, to bring all such as are or shall be committed to your charge, unto that agreement in the faith and knowledge of God, and to that ripeness and perfectness of age in Christ”.
In a 21st Century Dublin, where we are surrounded by countless examples of the rich young man, how do we remain faithful to our instructions?