Wednesday, March 15, 2023
Archbishop Thomas Wenski - The Archdiocese of Miami
Archbishop Thomas Wenski preached this homily during a Mass at Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Hialeah where he installed four seminarians as acolytes. The Mass was celebrated March 15, 2023.
We are gathering this evening to install these new acolytes. This is an important step on their journey to the presbyterate.
Of course, being a priest is not a prize. It is a call to service – and these ministries you receive along the way, lector and acolyte, commit you to a particular service of the Word and of the Table that will take on even greater significance when you are called to be coworkers with the bishop, God willing, as presbyters.
If you have been watching “Chosen,” you might have seen the episode where Matthew explains to Mary Magdalene the tassels he kept stored away. Practicing Jews– and Matthew was a bit of a fallen away Jew: He was a tax collector – wore these “prayer tassels” to remind them of the 613 precepts of the Torah. In the Gospel reading today, Jesus is careful to point out that he did not come to abolish the Law and Prophets but to fulfill them. As Jesus says to one of the Pharisees in another episode of Chosen: I am the Torah.
All Scriptures are Christian Scriptures – even what we call the Old Testament. Because they can only be understood in the light of Christ himself, the Word or Torah that became flesh. To miss Jesus is to miss the whole point of what the Scriptures are about, what they say and what they mean. As one evangelical preacher said, the Bible is a HIM book! It’s all about Jesus.
In the second Eucharistic Prayer, the prayers of consecration begin in this way: “At the time he was betrayed and entered willingly into his passion, he took bread...” Jesus “entered willingly into his passion.”
The Pharisees condemn Jesus not merely because they thought him not to be taking the Jewish law seriously. Jesus was a serious Jew. Jesus engaged the Pharisees and the people as a “rabbi” – a teacher. They condemned him because he was essentially claiming for himself a divine prerogative. “He must die,” they would later shout out “because he made himself equal with God.” As we say in the Nicene Creed, “God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, con-substantial with the Father; through whom all things were made.”
Jesus’ special relationship to the Father is the basis of our relationship to the Father. “Whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me will have eternal life.” And with baptism, which is already a participation in Jesus’ death and resurrection, eternal life has already begun for us. For if we hear his word and believe, we have “passed from death to life.” The Gospel is the good news that God is restoring our broken lives through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
That passing from death to life is “re-presented” in the Paschal Meal of the New Covenant, that is, the Holy Mass. For our communion in the Body and Blood of the Lord is already a foretaste of heaven. This is why the Church teaches that the Eucharist is the source and summit of her life. The Eucharist builds up the Christian community and makes it grow.
Those sharing in the ministry of acolyte have a special role in the celebration of the Eucharist. You assist priests and deacons in their ministry and as special ministers give Holy Communion to the faithful at Mass and to the sick.
Because you are specially called to this ministry, you should strive to live more fully by the Lord's sacrifice and to be molded more perfectly in its likeness. You should seek to understand the deep spiritual meaning of what you do, so that you may offer yourselves daily to God as spiritual sacrifices acceptable to him through Jesus Christ.
In performing your ministry bear in mind that, as you share the one bread with your brothers and sisters, you form one body with them. Show a sincere love for Christ's Mystical Body, God's holy people, and especially for the weak and the sick. Be obedient to the commandment which the Lord gave to his apostles at the Last Supper: "Love one another as I also have loved you,” for it is this New Commandment that brings to fulfillment all the Law and the Prophets.