Leaning against the rail of a ship bound for China was a middle-aged businessman. He had hard features and selfishness was written on every line of his face. A few feet away with his hands thrust into his overcoat pockets, stood a young priest. They began a conversation.
"Going to China?" asked the man. "Yes," replied the priest, "I'm a missionary." The businessman began to chide the priest for his foolishness in going to China in the service of God. He said, "Once I read about that young priest — Murphy, I think his name was — who was captured by bandits and held for ransom. For every week's delay in the payment of the money they lopped off a finger of his right hand. The ransom took three weeks to arrive and they cut off three of his fingers. For some reason that I cannot understand he asked them not to cut off the thumb and forefinger of his right hand. He still has them. He is in the States now and I don't think he will go back for any more of that. Something like that might happen to you if you don't watch out." And the man laughed. Then the dinner bell rang and they shook hands in parting. The man noticed that the priest's hand was very limp. He looked down and saw that he held only two fingers and that three fingers of the priest's hand were missing. The priest smiled, "Father Murphy is the name and I 'm going back for more."
Who can tell me, now, why the priest asked the bandits not to cut off the thumb and forefinger of his right hand. These two that I am holding up. The answer is that he wanted to say Mass with those fingers. That brings us to the next sacrament — Holy Orders. The sacrament by which bishops, priests, and other ministers of the Church are ordained and receive the power and grace to perform their sacred duties. Perhaps there is some boy or girl this morning who has thought that he or she would like to be a priest or a nun. I f that thought is in your mind, keep thinking about it and pray over it. The priesthood and the sisterhood are the things which keep the Church alive. God works through them. Perhaps you are thinking of the foreign missions like Father Murphy or perhaps you would rather stay home in this country. No matter which, remember that Christ needs workers in His vineyard. He has said "Come, follow Me." If you follow Him you are entering the happiest life on earth.
This morning during the Consecration, when the priest holds the Host between his thumb and forefinger, think what a noble priest Father Murphy was, and pray that God may give you strength to be just as noble as he was. "The harvest indeed is great but the laborers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest that He send forth laborers into His vineyard."
Source: "Heavenwords," Imprimatur 1941