Bishop Peña recently ordained four new priests in the dioceses.
Juan Rogelio Gutierrez
Juan Pablo Davalas Picago
Juan Pablo Robles
There was a homily given at the ordination of two other recently ordained priests, Brandon Ware and David Dutra, on May 19, 2007, that I feel was exceptionally well done and was consistent with the teachings of Our Lord. Enjoy.
Homily for Ordination to the Priesthood - Brandon Ware and David Dutra : May 19, 2007
Given by the Most Reverend Stephen E. Blaire at the Cathedral of the Annunciation in Stockton.
My dear brothers to be ordained to the ministerial priesthood, Brandon and David, the words Jesus spoke in Matthew’s gospel to the disciples he directs to you this morning.
“You are the salt of the earth.” The flavor you bring to priestly ministry is your personal zeal and the motivation to serve God with a generous heart. Your hands will be anointed by the Holy Spirit to offer to God the sacred mysteries of our faith and to bless those whom you serve. You are not anointed to be some kind of ecclesiastical functionary but rather one who is sent to awaken faith in Christ among those who have grown drowsy and to strengthen in conviction those who believe.
There are some in the Church today who do not look forward in hope with the eyes of faith but tend to be preoccupied with looking back in some kind of nostalgia for a Church they never experienced prior to the Second Vatican Council. I encourage you to study the history of the Church as a living and developing tradition and not to look back as Lot’s wife did or you might end up being a pillar of salt rather then the “salt of the earth.”
Those looking back want to give to the Church new forms of triumphalism, juridicism, and clericalism. The triumphalist wants to exercise authority through aggressive condemnation and excommunication and believes that the Church not only has the truth but also all the answers to every modern dilemma. Christ is indeed the Truth but we must seek out with humility and in light of the Gospel how to respond to the many and varied demands of living in today’s world. We are a servant Church, which proclaims the truth in love. We do not impose the gospel on the world. We seek to persuade by grace.
The juridicist searches out laws new or old to justify personal positions or ideologies in the Church. Especially they like to focus on liturgical practices. They incline to creating unnecessary hoops for people to jump through. The Church, of course, needs law to insure good order. But the purpose of all laws in the Church is the same as for all the works of the Church: “propter homines and propter nostram salutem” - for us, for our good and for our salvation.
The clericalist exaggerates the authority of the priest creating a new authoritarianism. The clericalist operates as if the priest is entitled to special status and privilege in the Church and in society. He gives little merit to collaboration with the laity. The ordained priest, however, represents Christ the Head and Good Shepherd of the Church. As Head of the Church Jesus came not to be served but to serve. As Good Shepherd he gave His life for the flock. The good priest patterns his life on Jesus the servant of God and remembers that the whole Church (Head and members) is the Body of Christ.
I have always treasured the words of my first pastor when I was newly ordained: We are here to serve the people and to do it with a touch of class.
“You are the light of the world.” Light first of all gives off warmth. As the sacramental presence of Christ the Eternal High Priest you bring a caring and warmth by your presence. The presence of the priest in celebrating the liturgies of the Church is one of faith and not just of style. Like Christ in the Eucharist you need to be a real presence among the people. This does not mean that you need to be at every event but it does mean that you need to be with the people outside of church on Sunday, with families when they are hurting, with the sick and dying - to anoint them and to bring some words of comfort and to give some of your time, to be there when they need the healing and comfort of the Lord Jesus and his friendship. The shepherd stays with the sheep. The priest who rarely leaves his room puts his light under a bushel basket and gives little light to the people of God.
Your light will burn brightly if you are men of prayer. I am not talking at this point about saying prayers or presiding over the liturgy. Neither am I talking about spiritual exercises as such. I am talking about hearing the word of God, the prayer of receiving the word of God deeply in your minds and hearts. Jesus said: “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” The First Letter of John reinforces this teaching of Jesus: “Whoever keeps His word, truly has the love of God been made perfect in him.” Only the priest who prays is spiritually alive.
After being a priest for forty years I realize each day how terribly weak and inadequate I am. God has anointed us as priests to represent Christ and to serve in His name. So often we blur this image, but in a marvelous and mysterious manner God accomplishes His will though our ministry. “Do you love me?” the risen Jesus asks us as He did Peter. Like Peter we respond: “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Then Jesus says to us, in spite of all our denials, in spite of all our limitations, “Feed my lambs…tend my sheep…feed my sheep.”
We pray that our four new priests will be filled with the Holy Spirit as they continue their lifes in the priesthood.