In the Heart of the Church - Priesthood Ordination

Homily  of His Excellency John Clement Favarola
Archbishop of Miami
Priesthood Ordination
Cathedral of Saint Mary
May 12, 2007


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"You do not belong to the world. I have chosen you out of the world."

Our Lord's words at the Last Supper were directed to his first priests on their ordination day. Today they are directed to you on the day you become a priest. They reflect the reality Jesus preached to all of his disciples. You are to be in this world, but not of it. And because of that, you will be somewhat of a misfit. Jesus indicates that you and what you stand for, therefore, will not always be well received. In fact, Jesus indicates it may cause you to be hated.

The priesthood is mysterious by its nature. It is Christ the one and only eternal priest made present through your poor, lowly person. It begins with a mysterious call from God as each of your stories so well indicates. The priest represents to men the things that pertain to God, who is mystery to us. The priest dispenses through the Sacraments the mysteries of God's life within us. At each Mass the priest proclaims "Mysterium Fidei." That one of God's own creation should make present the divine redemption daily in the Eucharist is beyond human comprehension. Yet, that is what you are called to do. You

will be a man shrouded in the mystery of God's love for us. So you will minister in this world about our divine destiny which is beyond this world.

St. Luke in the Acts of the Apostles today recalls how the development of the early Church's mission was guided not by human calculation but by the mysterious work of the Spirit.  St. Luke writes: "They tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not allow them." One night Paul had a vision and concluded that God had called him and Timothy to proclaim the Good News in Macedonia. He left immediately.

This mysterious guidance of the Holy Spirit formed the mission of the post-resurrection Church and it still guides the Church today.

Mysteriously, God, through your bishop, sends each of you to various places to "hand on to the people for observance the decisions reached by the Apostles" as Acts recounts today. And as a result, the reading continues, the Church grew stronger in faith and increased in number. So it will happen in your ministry if you allow the Spirit of God to guide you. Our poor human endeavors mysteriously take on divine dimensions. Divine Providence is mysteriously linked to all aspects of our life.

Like Paul and Timothy, each of you is very talented and has placed your gifts at the disposal of the Spirit. It is the mysterious Spirit who will use them as he wills.

Your responsibility will be to remain docile to the Spirit who works through your bishop, your pastor, your circumstances of life, as well as through your gifts. It is the Spirit who brings the divine mysteries to light.

So, you must always be careful to remember that you do not belong to this world. This is quite a challenge. Our secularistic society is so preoccupied with the here and now. We find it hard to believe in a reality that is beyond. But the priest must stand always as mediator between God and man, one foot in heaven, one foot on earth. You will listen to God's revelation and give it to His people in season and out, whether they like you for it, whether they hate you for it, whether they accept or reject it.

Some in the world do hate what you will offer them. Pope Benedict's message in his current visit to Brazil has already brought sharp criticism because it is not what the world wants to hear. Yet, he models for all of us that the priest cannot compromise the teachings handed on by the Apostles. To do so would be to be unfaithful to the mission of the Church. It would deny that we do not belong to this world.

In. a few minutes, your good families and friends and your brother priests will intercede with all the Saints on your behalf. We all desire for each of you to be a good priest, a priest who walks in the mysterious ways of the Lord and who bears God's mysteries faithfully, a priest whose life gives evidence of the Holy Spirit at work. The people of God expect you to be courageous and uncompromising in handing on God's mysterious word. The people of God expect you to imitate the God-man whose mysterious, redemptive love wills for all to come to know the Father whom one day, when the veil is lifted, we will see as he is, face to face, when mystery will give way to light and truth.

God chooses you now to enter intimately into the mystery.


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