I was once assigned to a parish (not this one, not this diocese) in a far flung place on the other side of the world. The throw away comment – always the important one – was that I was not to make waves; I was just to be a warm body filling the position of pastor; I was just to ensure that all kept moving along nicely, getting along to get along. Nice!
Of course, if one is faithful to Jesus in whatever way – however otherwise weak, however otherwise sinful – one will then embody the sign of contradiction, which is goodness and truth, kindness and truth, charity and truth, that for which Jesus was crucified. Everyone who is not with Jesus, not with goodness and kindness and truth, hates Jesus and anyone who would in whatever way be attempting to be with Jesus.
A priest is to be all about being a sign of contradiction by being good and kind in a truthful manner, however weak and sinful he otherwise is. To demand that the priest is to be nice, a sycophant, with no truth and therefore no actual goodness and kindness, no Jesus whatsoever, is to entrap such a priest faithful to Jesus for failure in the eyes of those who assigned him. That priest cannot but be a sign of contradiction; that priest cannot for a second be simply “nice.” The failure was foreseen and desired, and vengeance for the failure will be swift and vicious, not nice at all.
The second there is a complaint about the faithful priest not being “nice,” but rather good and kind and truthful, that priest is ripped out of that parish for having had the audacity to be faithful to Jesus, but the accusation, of course, is that that priest wasn’t nice, and couldn’t fulfill even one simple assignment to just keep a parish running with no problems by just being nice.
On the one hand: God the Father so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son among us, to reveal to us the goodness and kindness and truth of the Father, knowing that we would consider that all to be not nice, knowing that we would torture His Son to death, but this so as to take on what we deserve for sin, death, so that He, standing in our place, the Innocent for the guilty, might have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us.
On the other hand: Those who entrap others by assigning them to be nice so that they can later crucify them for not having been nice, but “merely” good and kind and truthful, style themselves in a CYA manner as those who are like God the Father, you know, tough enough to assign those under them to go ahead and be crucified.
There are so many problems of logic with all that, as many as there are with being “nice” while not being good and kind and truthful.
My assignment in that parish was to be “nice.” However otherwise weak and sinful I was, I wanted instead to be good and kind and truthful. I couldn’t publicly condone and vocally bless violent racism and “strict segregationalism.” I was therefore accused of not being “nice.”
I’m happy to be accused of not being “nice.” ;-)