As I finish my first year as a priest, I feel the pressure to master the elevator speech, the quick two-minute pitch that gets at the heart of my priestly identity. What image best describes this priestly life of mine?
Is it me blessing married couples, babies, horses, motorcycles, detained migrants, rosarios, houses, hands, foreheads and feet?
Is it saying yes to all the surprising requests for confession before and after Mass?
Is it sharing a cup of coffee and a cigarette with a man who just lost his brother – months after losing his wife?
Is it the kindergarten kid who yells “¡Mira! Es Dios!” (Look! It’s Jesus!) every time I walk into his class?
How about salsa dancing in a square with 300 teenagers?
Or maybe it is eating the fried egg the Missionaries of Charity made me for saying Mass for them?
I could also talk about the ways I sometimes fail. My hesitancy to visit the elderly. Hiding in my office when I am spent. The time I preached for fifteen minutes because I was convinced the congregation needed to hear all five points.
I guess this year has been about meeting Christ, again. One of my priest mentors, Bill, likes to say sacraments give us permission to be Christ. I like this, not for me exclusively qua priest, but for everybody.
I’ve met Him in the man who comes to fix the boiler in January. I like to think He was in the car as I took four old ladies to pay their respects to a fallen cardinal. He has kissed me on the cheek when the five-year-old tambourine player thanked me for wishing her “Feliz cumpleaños.” (Happy Birthday!)
In the face of this Godmother during a baptism:
Most days I feel like her. Jesus amazes me. Since my ordination he has taken my breath away on countless occasions.
I guess I could tell some version of this on the elevator. But who am I kidding? Jesus would probably take the stairs anyway.