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'You are being ordained for them' not for you

Archbishop's homily at ordination of four new priests

Newly ordained priests return to take their place in the sanctuary after having their hands anointed with oil of chrism. From left: Fathers Omar Ayubi, Juan Alberto Gomez, Gustavo Barros and Matthew Gomez.

Photographer: ANA RODRIGUEZ-SOTO | FC

Newly ordained priests return to take their place in the sanctuary after having their hands anointed with oil of chrism. From left: Fathers Omar Ayubi, Juan Alberto Gomez, Gustavo Barros and Matthew Gomez.

Archbishop Thomas Wenski preached this homily at theordination ceremony for four new archdiocesan priests: Father Omar Ayubi, Father Gustavo Barros, Father Juan Alberto Gomez and Father Matthew Gomes. May 12, 2018 at St. Mary Cathedral.

“Ask and you will receive,” Jesus tells us in this morning’s Gospel. These four men who stand before us today asking to be ordained priests are Jesus’ answer to the fervent prayers of so many of the faithful of this local Church. This year we celebrate 60 years since the Diocese of Miami was established – 50 years since it was made an Archdiocese. And for 60 years, the People of God here in South Florida have prayed for priestly vocations (I think especially of the work of the Liga Orante, the Serra Clubs, parish vocation committees and those families who take home from their parishes a chalice to pray for vocations); and our Catholic people over these years have also generously sacrificed to nurture these vocations, supporting our seminaries so that they have the worthy priests they need – and deserve.

These soon to be priests will begin their parish assignments effective June 14 – so four parishes will get new “Fathers” just in time for Father’s Day. So guys – when all is said and done, this is not about you – it’s about them. You are being ordained for them.

Una palabra a sus padres – y en especial a sus madres – (los padres de Juan Alberto no pudieron llegar pero desde México siguen la ceremonia en Livestream. Les digo: no se preocupen por ellos. Las oraciones y la amistad de sus nuevos hermanos sacerdotes les van a servir de amparo. La Iglesia está muy agradecido a ustedes por su generosidad, por haber animado a sus hijos para que pudieran responder a esta vocación sacerdotal en la cual servirán a Cristo y al pueblo de Dios aquí en el Sur de la Florida. Y ya que mañana es Día de la Madres, yo tengo el gusto de presentarles a estas madres – y a nuestra Madre celestial – el regalo de cuatro nuevos sacerdotes.

Archbishop Thomas Wenski preaches the homily during the ordination ceremony for four new priests for South Florida, celebrated before a jam-packed St. Mary Cathedral May 12, 2018. The new priests are Father Omar Ayubi, Father Gustavo Barros, Father Juan Alberto Gomez and Father Matthew Gomez.

Photographer: ANA RODRIGUEZ-SOTO | FC

Archbishop Thomas Wenski preaches the homily during the ordination ceremony for four new priests for South Florida, celebrated before a jam-packed St. Mary Cathedral May 12, 2018. The new priests are Father Omar Ayubi, Father Gustavo Barros, Father Juan Alberto Gomez and Father Matthew Gomez.

Remember, when Jesus first sent out his apostles, he told them: “Proclaim the Kingdom of God…Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons.” Quite a job description for them – and for us!

As Jesus’ heart was moved with pity for the troubled and the abandoned, those who seem like sheep without a shepherd, so too should a priest’s heart be moved. Pastoral charity – and not the desire for fame or fortune – should motivate the priest in his ministry. A priest is to “cure the sick”; that is, to attend to the ill and the injured, healing their isolation with a visit and bringing courage to those who are weak; a priest is to raise the dead, that is, to restore hope to those deadened by discouragement and defeat; a priest is to cleanse lepers, that is to befriend the outsider, to extend the hand of friendship to the marginalized and rejected; a priest is to drive out demons, by helping people deal with the various addictions that affect them and by not failing to address any personal demons that may threaten the integrity of his commitment.

In a secularized world increasingly populated by “nones,” those with no religious affiliation, the priest is an enigma, a sign of great contradiction. In a world in which people live as if God does not matter, the Church will always seem “out of step” and irrelevant. Such a Church will often be regarded if not with scorn and ridicule then with utter incomprehension.

Yet, by Christ’s design, though we do not belong to the world, we are “in” the world “for the life of the world.” This call of the Church to be “in the world” and to be “for the life of the world” has been strongly emphasized since Pope Francis has ascended to the Chair of Peter. He has criticized a “self-referential Church,” a Church closed in on herself. A priest, Pope Francis tells us, is not to build walls but bridges. And he has challenged all of us to “go out of the sacristies and go out to the “outskirts” “where people of faith are most exposed to the onslaught of those who want to tear down their faith.”

The world desperately needs the priest’s witness that God in fact does matter. This witness is made more compelling by his detachment from material comforts and signs of status, by his readiness to obediently be available wherever his bishop may send him, and by his chaste celibacy which is the source of spiritual fecundity. This is what Pope Francis would call being a priest who goes out of himself and lives like a shepherd with the “smell of the sheep.”

A priestly vocation, in the words of Pope St. John Paul II, is both a “gift and a mystery.” To embrace the gift and to enter into the mystery which enables the priest, in communion with Jesus to act in his name and in his sight, as a shepherd of souls, is a step not to be taken lightly. Since the priest offers the Holy Sacrifice every day, sacrifice must also be the condition of his life. In giving Christ’s Body and Blood, we must also give our body and blood for the life of our people.

Hermanos, así como Jesús fue enviado por el Padre y él a su vez envió a los Apóstoles al mundo, ustedes, por su ordenación al sagrado Sacerdocio Ministerial, son enviados a predicar el Evangelio, a sostener el pueblo de Dios, y a celebrar la liturgia, sobre todo, el sacrificio del Señor.

Busquen siempre tener conciencia de qué es lo que se esfuerzan en imitar en los sagrados misterios que celebran.

Jesús, quien como el Hijo de Dios, fue y es el Señor, prefirió ser el sirviente de todos. Él es el Sumo Sacerdote de la Nueva y Eterna Alianza quien les ha hecho “digno de servirle en su presencia.” Y como en la Ultima Cena, cuando instituyó el Sacramento de las Ordenes Sagradas, Jesús representa su sumo sacerdocio en un gesto simple y sencillo: el lavado de los pies. Por su generosidad al dar de su tiempo, por su disposición hacia el pueblo de Dios, por su acceso a aquellos que sufren o tienen necesidad, por su acercamiento hacia el pobre y el marginado, que puedan imitar al Buen Pastor quien vino no a ser servido sino a servir. Con la ayuda del Espíritu Santo que nos fortalece en nuestras debilidades, que puedan lavar los pies de aquellos que están a su cargo.

And in welcoming these new brothers into our priestly fraternity, we – bishops and priests – grow in an even greater appreciation of all that God has done through us – despite our admitted shortcomings. Inspired by the generosity of these four men we also renew our commitment to our vocation to follow Christ, the source of our hope, the hope that does not disappoint (Rom. 5:5).

After the ceremony, Archbishop Thomas Wenski, center, poses with the newly ordained outside St. Mary Cathedral. From left: Father Matthew Gomez, Father Gustavo Barros, Father Omar Ayubi and Father Juan Alberto Gomez.

Photographer: ANA RODRIGUEZ-SOTO | FC

After the ceremony, Archbishop Thomas Wenski, center, poses with the newly ordained outside St. Mary Cathedral. From left: Father Matthew Gomez, Father Gustavo Barros, Father Omar Ayubi and Father Juan Alberto Gomez.


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