Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, and the stewards of the mysteries of God. Here now it is required among the dispensers, that a man be found faithful.
(1 Cor 4: 1-2)
1. Introduction to the theme
Perhaps never before in the history of the Church have Christians of good will (the remnant that still hold fast to the Faith) looked for good Shepherds to guide them as much as modern Christians are searching. Good Shepherds are indeed the ones established by divine institution to lead the People of God along the road to Salvation.
The fact that Jesus Christ Himself determined things so implies that the office and the functions of the ministers of Christ are essential for the good progress of the Church, even for her very existence. Without Shepherds, the Flock will go nowhere but to the abyss of perdition.
Nevertheless, not all Shepherds are suited for this office, only those who, according to the words of the Apostle, are true ministers of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.
It is particularly the priest, since he is the Shepherd most directly in contact with the People of God, who should regard himself, and be regarded by the faithful, in the way Saint Paul describes.[i]
Not to understand the mystery of the Cross is not to understand the mystery of love. And since man has been created by Love and for love (to love and to be loved on a natural order that is ordained to a supernatural one), to do without the Cross is to do without Love; that is the definitive destruction of man´s own destiny.
And this is so because the mystery of the Cross is inexplicable and without meaning if it is not based upon another mystery which justifies it: the mystery of love, which is the reason the Apostle gives for finding in the Cross the grounds for his own glory. The scandal of the Cross becomes a glorious thing when we find out that the Cross is but the result and the final proof of love. And love is the most sublime reality that there is in Heaven as well as on Earth since, ultimately, God Himself is love. And created love, granted to creatures, is a participation in the very Nature and glory of God.
As we have said, Love is God (1 Jn 4:8). It has also been established that since it is impossible for man to know God directly in Himself, man has to resort to an indirect manner and through His vestiges. Nevertheless man can know Him in Jesus Christ: No man has seen God at any time: the only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.And it is precisely in Jesus Christ, Who loved us to the end (Jn 13:1), where love is fully known by man. And only when love and the Object of that love are known do sorrow and suffering achieve their full meaning.