50th Anniversary Sermon

Posted By: August 05, 2018

Kinawley Church. Saturday, August 4, 2018
God bless Kinawley.
I want to thank all of you —Fr. McMorrow, the parish council, all the priests at the Altar, and all
of you here — for giving me the opportunity to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Ordination at
this Mass in Kinawley.
The first thing the Catholic Church teaches about the priesthood is this: all the Baptized share
in the priesthood of Jesus Christ. It is called the “priesthood of the faithful.”
And it is because of this priesthood that the ministerial/hierarchical priesthood — the
priesthood of all the priests here at the altar —is possible.
Like the other Sacraments, the Sacrament of Ordination has a particular mission: it is a call to
serve the faithful and all God’s people; it is a mission of service; it is a Sacrament of service.
Pope Francis says this: “It is true that God has made His entire holy people a royal priesthood in
Christ. Nevertheless, our great Priest Himself, Jesus Christ, chose certain disciples to carry out
publicly in His name, and on behalf of mankind, a priestly office in the Church. They were
elected by the Lord Jesus not to embark on a career, but to undertake this service.” (2)
Ordination is a special anointing, a special commission, so that one can proclaim the primary
command of God, as powerfully summed up by the Prophet Micah: “Do justice, love mercy and
walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8).
Jesus himself spelled it out more fully when he said of Himself: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon
me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim
liberty to the captives and the recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are
oppressed.” (Luke 4:18).
And the Catholic Church teaches:”Action on behalf of justice … [is] a constitutive dimension of
the preaching of the Gospel … and of the Church’s mission for the redemption of the human race
and its liberation from every oppressive situation (3).
The word “constitutive” means “that, without which, something cannot stand.”
Simply put: The Catholic Church teaches that without justice, the Gospel of Jesus does not
stand, and without its social-justice mission, the Catholic Church does not stand.
Of course, part from this social service aspect of the priesthood, the liturgical/sacramental
service of the priesthood is nowhere more evident than when the priest gathers with the faithful
for the Celebration of the Eucharist— just as we are doing now, faithful to one of Christ’s most
sacred and important commands:”Do this in memory of me.” And, of course, without prayer —
both private and Liturgical— and without the Mass and the other Sacraments, the Gospel of
Jesus does not stand and the Cathoic Church cannot stand.
  • A Catholic celebration — especially one held in the context of The Eucharist/The Mass—
    always has the same fundamental meaning: celebrating, rejoicing in, and giving thanks for the
    Gift of Jesus Christ to the world. And for me, this is fundamentally what the 50th Anniversary of
    my Ordination is about: giving thanks for the Gift of Jesus Christ— without whom there would
    be no priesthood, whether the Priesthood of the Faithful or the Ministerial Priesthood.
    Jesus is the Sacrament from which all other sacraments flow.
    Now, all of us probably have a verse from Scripture that sticks in our mind more than others… a
    verse that is particularly moving for us … one that resonates down through the years … that sums
    it all up for us. I have mine, and it’s a verse that after all these years can still raise the hair on the
    back of my neck, filling me with wonder and amazement: ” The Word was made flesh and
    dwelt among us …” (John 1:14).
    For Christian believers, the most central and profound historical event in the history of
    humankind is The Incarnation: that moment in history when the Blessed Virgin Mary
    conceived Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. The moment that God broke definitively
    and fully into human history.
    Naturally, this happened not on the First Christmas Day in Bethlehem, but
    nine months before Christmas Day. For nine months, The Second Person of the Blessed
    Trinity, God Incarnate, The Savior of the world, Our Most Holy Redeemer, lived in Mary’s
    womb—otherwise “the Word would NOT have been made flesh.”The only way Jesus could
    have been human was to have a Mother—He took his flesh from His mother.
    If Jesus had not also been human (as well as Divine), there would —according to God’s plan—
    have been no Salvation, no Redemption, no Death and Resurrection, no Holy Spirit descending
    on the Church, no eternal life.
    The Incarnation, therefore, is the fundamental Christian Mystery—from which all other
    Christian mysteries flow. The Incarnation not only reveals to us the mystery of God’s love and
    mercy but it also reveals the mystery of our own humanity, bringing to light our very high
    calling :which is, to build up God’s kingdom on earth in justice and solidarity, and to inherit
    eternal life through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.
    Our Faith, therefore, comes down to fully accepting The Incarnation: the gift of Jesus Christ,
    Son of God and son of Mary.
    One advantage of seeing Christianity as a matter of fully accepting the Gift of Jesus Christ to the
    world is that none of us can claim credit for the Gift of Christ? Who could claim the credit for
    that?… Well, perhaps Our Blessed Lady could…. But we know that She did not claim credit
    but, instead, sang out her famous prayer, The Magnificat:“My soul magnifies the Lord and my
    spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” (Luke 46-47). Thus, Mary, the first and perfect Christian,
    teaches us how to respond to the Incarnation— how to accept the Gift of Jesus Christ—with
    prayer and action, with joy and gratitude, with faith and trust.
  • And that is why Our Blessed Lady has such an important role in our lives, especially Catholic
    lives. I have a saying:“If anyone has a problem with Mary, let them take it up with Jesus,
    and see how far that gets them!”
    Can you imagine beginning a conversation with any son or daughter by saying “I have a
    problem with your Mother.”
    So, today, I am, of course, very conscious of my Ordination fifty years ago. But I am also very
    conscious of my Baptism, right here in this Church 74 years ago. It was here —like many of you
    —that I was Baptized into the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ; here I became a member
    of The Body of Christ, here I became a member of the Catholic Church, the Sacrament of Christ
    on earth. Right here in this Church. In St. Patrick’s, Killesher, I made my First Communion and
    received Confirmation.
    So, everything I am, my entire Catholic faith, my Catholic identity, and my Catholic ethos, I owe
    to the parish of Kinawley, to my family and relatives, to my neighbors in Clonliff, and to all the
    wonderful people of this parish. That is why my heart is never far from Kinawley.
    God bless Kinawley. … And God save Ireland.
    Thank you.
    1. (At the Service of the Common Priesthood of the Faithful
    Pope Benedict XVI).
    2.”Pope ordains 10 priests, urges them to be merciful, joyful shepherds
    May 9, 2017. Catholic World News.
    3.Justice in the World” (No.6) Synod of Bishops meeting in Rome. November 30, 1971