Picture in your mind, and it shouldn’t take much imagination, a young boy participating in the priesthood function of the Sacrament. He lowers his head during the prayers and then gleefully hands out the water and bread to the congregation. Just like what happens every Sunday, he returns to the cloth covered table and sets down the silver trays he passed around the room. There is nothing unusual about the actions.
What is relatively different is the boy. He is far from unable to perform normal tasks, but his mental capacity is abnormally limited. During any other time he won’t sit still without trying to talk to whoever will lend him an ear. Despite his age, his thoughts and actions are far closer to a person younger than Priesthood age. Often he has to be kindly reminded his behavior is not appropriate, although lacking any serious disruptive nature.
The difference between the boy with the Sacrament tray and the same boy without it in his hand can be remarkable. You are almost awe struck by his sincere appreciation of the routine Priesthood function as you are his antics at other times. It is a reminder that the gifts and blessings of the Priesthood are beyond the people who are given the responsibilities.
While thinking of this boy, the response in Ether 12:26-27 the worries of Moroni that no one would take his writing seriously came to mind:
And when I had said this, the Lord spake unto me, saying: Fools mock, but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness;
And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.
Equally amazing is the care the other Priesthood boys give to him. I have never seen, at least in my limited Church exposure, any grief or mockery of his less than normal abilities. On the other hand, he does seem to have a “wicked” sense of good humor that makes it hard to not like him. I imagine, and have seen, that he can give equally what he can take as the saying goes. There are those with far more limitations.
It is to those with worse handicaps that I wonder what the Priesthood has done for them both in using and receiving. How much self-respect is gained by doing whatever they can to magnify callings? For instance, how wonderful it must be for someone without arms to still be able to do the Sacrament using prosthetic limbs. Each time they might be reminded what they don’t have, but yet also realize the special blessing of the Atonement that one day, as stated in Alma 40:17, “The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame.”
To be honest, I am not sure what kinds of leeway is given when the Priesthood holder might not have all the physical or mental faculties. Giving a blessing to the sick can’t be easy when a deaf person must lay their hands on a head. What kind of guidance exists for different circumstances? It could be on an individual bases that such questions are addressed. That a Priesthood holder still does their duty no matter how hard the circumstance I imagine is a powerful spiritual experience.
Each of us have our own handicaps no matter how “perfect” in other areas we might seem. The Priesthood is far more than a perfunctory part of Latter-day Saint membership for males. Taking that for granted is pridefully ignoring the greatness bestowed to the undeserved mortals. Those who have it should, with faith and repentant hearts, constantly remind themselves it is for the Lord’s work and not any personal gratification. Women of all ages should express appreciation to the men of all ages for doing their duty when properly carried out. It can be a positive reinforcement of the value and responsibility given to them in the ordinations. Those less able to perform the functions of the Priesthood might understand better than anyone how precious the gift of serving others. I pondered while watching an extraordinary boy doing an extraordinary Priesthood function that has become ordinary; done properly, the Priesthood can transform people on both sides of its influence.