Hearing Confession is just one of a priest's many duties
From today’s Gospel (John 13:16-20):
‘I tell you most solemnly,
whoever welcomes the one I send welcomes me,
and whenever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.’
In this Gospel passage we can clearly see Jesus referring to his disciples.
Yet, fast forward two thousand years to today and Jesus would be talking about our priests and bishops. So let us ask ourselves this question….how do I treat my parish priest? Do I welcome him to my home? Do I treat him with the respect Jesus suggests he deserves? Do I appreciate the work he puts in to his ministry, in saying Mass, in hearing Confessions, in tending to the sick, in tending to the dying, in tending to the bereaved, in putting in hour after hour of deep and meaningful prayer for my benefit, in dealing with parish politics?
Remember that your priest has been chosen by God to be in your parish, to minister to you and your fellow parishioners. God has put him in that very place at this very time and He wants you to welcome His servant in the same way that you welcome Jesus in the Eucharist.
Yes, it is the task of the parish priest to serve his parishioners and to lead them in faith. But it is not a one way street. We too are called to support our priest and assist him in whatever way we can to help him in his ministry. And from these close, supportive relationships between priest and parishioner we can build up strong, faithful parish communities ready to announce the Good News to the world.