‘All of us Rejoice in the Gift of Your Ordination’

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Bishop Rhoades delivered the following homily at Mass with Ordination of Priests on Saturday, June 3, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne:

“I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer, for, I tell you, I shall not eat it again until there is fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” 

It was Holy Thursday night when Jesus said these words. He had already instructed Peter and John where the Last Supper was to take place and to make the preparations. Jesus was very intentional in the planning because He was about to celebrate with His disciples a Passover meal unlike any other. He was keenly aware of the suffering and death that awaited Him the next day. He was about to accomplish His mission, the mission He had received from the Father: the salvation of the world. Jesus was ready to give His life for the life of the world. He was about to bring the Jewish Passover to fulfillment as He would “pass over” from death to life and bring humanity to true freedom in the promised land, eternal life in heaven. 

At the Last Supper, Jesus anticipated the sacrifice He was to offer the next day on Calvary. He transformed it into a gift of love. He made this gift present in advance in the bread broken which became His body, and in the wine poured out which became His blood. Full of love for His disciples, Jesus wanted to give them as a parting gift the gift of His very self: His flesh as real food and His blood as real drink. That’s why He eagerly desired to eat the Passover with His apostles — out of His love for them and for His disciples throughout the ages, He instituted the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Our Lord wanted to have this feast with them in which He would transform the gifts of creation and become one with them. This is God’s desire: to share His life with us, to bring us into communion with Him, truly Holy Communion. 

Not only did Jesus institute the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper, He also instituted the ministerial priesthood. As Our Lord established the new covenant in His blood, He made His apostles the bearers and ministers of that covenant. He made them His priests, empowering them to speak and act in His very person. He did so when He issued the command: “Do this in memory of me.” Jesus commissioned them to perform the same rite He had just done. He made them the instruments through which His Paschal Mystery would be made present throughout history. 

Today, the Lord will make Sam, B