Priesthood Ordination Mass

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The following is the homily preached by Bishop Rhoades at the Priesthood Ordination Mass at Saint Matthew Cathedral on June 4, 2016:

We gather here in Saint Matthew Cathedral today to celebrate a great gift from God to the Church – the gift of the sacrament of priestly ordination.

The priesthood is a gift: no human being is able to make himself a priest, a mediator for God. As the letter to the Hebrews says: “no one takes this honor upon himself, but only when called by God.” God has called our brothers Craig, Bob, and David to the priesthood, the priesthood of His Son. And for this gift, we give thanks to God today.

God will enter the life of these three men in a new way through ordination. The Lord will consecrate them so that they will be able to speak and act in the name of His Son. Through this consecration, they will be inserted into the life and mission of Christ, the great High Priest and Good Shepherd, in order to extend His saving mission. They will do things that no men can do by their own power. In Christ’s name, they will speak the words which absolve us of our sins. Over the offerings of bread and wine, they will speak Christ’s words that make His Body and Blood present as food for His people. How close God is to us, His beloved people, in the gifts He gives us through the ministry of the priests of His Son!

Craig, Bob, and David, you were already consecrated to the Lord when you were baptized. You were immersed in Him. Today, you are immersed in Him again, but in a new way. Through priestly ordination, you will belong to God in a new way as you are configured to His Son, the Head and Shepherd of the Church. This is the truth of the sacrament you are about to receive. With this priestly consecration, you will receive an awesome mission: to be, in and for the Church, a humble but real sign of the one eternal Priest who is Jesus.

In contemplating the immensity of this mission, you may feel a bit like Jeremiah when the Lord called him to be His prophet. He was afraid: “Ah, Lord God, I know not how to speak; I am too young.” Jeremiah knew his limitations and felt that he was not up to the task that God entrusted to him. God answered Jeremiah. He told him to have no fear. God was sending him on his mission and assured Jeremiah that He would be with him. He touched Jeremiah’s mouth and said: “See, I place my words in your mouth!” God gave Jeremiah a heavy responsibility, but He gave him the grace to fulfill it. The Lord does the same through priestly ordination. Deacons Craig, Bob, and David, like Jeremiah, know their limitations and unworthiness. They say “yes” to the priestly mission with trust that the Lord will be with them, that His grace will sustain them. They believe in Jesus’ promise of the help of the Holy Spirit in their ministry. And, yes, God will place His words in their mouth – words like “This is my body which is given up for you” and “This is the chalice of my blood which will be poured out for you.”

These, our brothers, are being ordained during the Jubilee Year of Mercy. This has special meaning. Pope Francis wants this to be a year “steeped in mercy, so that we can go out to every man and woman, bringing the goodness and tenderness of God.” He speaks of mercy as “the beating heart of the Gospel” and “the very foundation of the Church’s life.” This has particular relevance for priest