In 1941 when I was thirteen my home parish in St. Lois got a new priest, and he was wonderful. Today’s Gospel makes me think of Father Jim Curtain. On his wall he had framed those words: “You are in the world, but not of the world.”
Father Curtain told me that the passage was Christ’s prayer for his priests. He said their Roman collars told everyone that although priests live in the world, they do not belong to the world.
Father was right in calling it Christ’s prayer for his priests, but his prayer was not just for those who wear the Roman collar. In our baptisms, following on the pouring of the water, we are anointed with the oil of chrism. It reminds us that having been baptized into Christ we are baptized into a share in his role as priest, prophet, and king.
The Christian priesthood is not restricted to those who wear Roman collars. All Christians have a share in Christ’s roles as priest and victim. Today’s Gospel records the prayer of Jesus following on the Last Supper. It was a prayer he offered for all who share in his priesthood by reason of their baptism. None of us belong to this world. All of us must take active parts in the Mass.