The first readings brings on a little nostalgia for me. I first saw that passage seventy-three years ago when I was thirteen. A newly ordained priest, Father Jimmy Curtain, had come to our parish, and I went to his room to pick up some cards for learning the Latin we needed to learn before we could serve Mass, and I pointed to a this framed Bible passage on his wall.
I asked Father Curtain about it, and he said, “Tommy, that’s the prayer Jesus offered up for his priests the night before he died.”
Father Curtain went on to build up a great Catholic school system for most of the State of Missouri, and he died young from the problems he handled in his work.
Priests now are somewhat different. Back then, you hardly ever saw a priest without his Roman collar. In fact, when a priest left the priesthood what people would say was, “He took off the collar.”
Vatican II did away with the Latin Mass, and it drove home the point that all baptized Christians have a real share in the priesthood. That left us ordained priests no longer a breed entirely apart the way the British royalty is.
In a way we miss the old days. We miss the dignified priests we looked up to with awe. But Christ’s prayer for his priests now works for all baptized Christians, and us ordained guys only say, “Welcome aboard!”