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Have ‘special concern for those who need us most’

Published: June 8, 2022   
Bishop Anthony B. Taylor

Every seminarian preparing for ordination spends some time reflecting on what Scripture passages most reflect the mission to which the Lord is calling him. These passages usually show up in the readings chosen for their ordination ceremony, sort of as a scriptural mission statement regarding the vocation to which God has called them and for which they are consecrating their lives.

And lo and behold, Jaime and Daniel have chosen for their first reading the very same passage from Isaiah that we use in the Chrism Mass when we renew our priestly commitment. It is also the text that Jesus himself chose as he began his public ministry that day at the synagogue in Nazareth 2,000 years ago, regarding which he said: “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Daniel and Jaime, by choosing this passage, you are saying that you want to be so intimately united to Jesus that his mission becomes your mission, with special concern for those who need us the most:

  • “bringing glad tidings to the lowly” — your preferential concern for the poor,
  • “healing the brokenhearted”— the pastoral counseling that you will offer,
  • “proclaiming liberty to captives and release to prisoners,” who are among the most despised and forgotten people in our society,
  • “announcing a year of favor from the Lord” — courageous advocacy for peace and justice and mercy and hope in the public square, human rights,
  • “comforting all who mourn”— proclaiming the kerygma through all your words and actions, Jesus’ victory over the power of sin and death.

Through ordination, Jesus equips you to do all this and much more, except that it will not be you doing it. It will be Jesus doing everything through you. One of the ways that you will do this will be through the sacrament of reconciliation, right in line with what we see in the Gospel passage you chose for today’s ceremony.

"You need to 'set an example for those who believe, in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity.' That’s a tall order, but with God’s grace, you can do it."

Jesus words to his apostles are spoken to you as well: “Peace be with you” — even if you are a little nervous today. “As the Father has sent me” — meaning Jesus — “so I send you. Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

And of course, in the words of your second reading from the First Letter to Timothy, to be credible — despite your youth — you need to “set an example for those who believe, in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity.” That’s a tall order, but with God’s grace, you can do it.

Daniel and Jaime, three weeks from now, we will be launching a three-year process of Eucharistic Revival starting on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of the Lord. And isn’t it true that every element of our faith comes together in the Eucharist?

The mission statement in our reading from Isaiah, which Jesus makes his own, and the kerygma of Jesus’ sacrifice of himself, offered to the Father on Calvary 2,000 years ago and from his altars throughout the world in every Mass. But not just the sacrifice of Jesus. You become another Christ — an “alter Christus” — through ordination, so you are to offer yourself to God as well, in every Mass you celebrate, united to Jesus, whose priest you will be.

Bishop Anthony B. Taylor delivered this homily May 28 for the ordination Mass of Fathers Jaime Nieto and Daniel Wendel.

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