HOMILY of BISHOPFINTAN MONAHANFOR CHRISM MASS, WEDNESDAY, MARCH 28TH, 2018
Chrism Mass – Celebration of Vocation
In ourChrism Masscelebrationthis eveningwe renew our promises and give a voiceto our dependence on, our support for each other and our need for God’s help as we earnestly tryto follow in the footsteps of Jesus in our respective vocations as married, single, religious or priests.
Situating The Ministry of Jesus
The first accountof Jesus’ Galilean teaching is given to usin today’s gospel as an account of his visit in Nazareth, his home-town. It firmly sets the agenda for the ministry of Jesus. Luke deliberately places this story at the beginning of the public ministry to give a sense ofthe entire ministry of Jesus and the reaction to it.
Participation in the Ministry of Jesus
Just last week the priests of the diocese had the opportunity to reflect for a day on the spirituality and theology of call, vocation and the priesthood of Jesus Christ. We were facilitated in thoughts and discussions on three important distinct, but inter-related aspects of the wonderful and privileged call that we all celebrate here tonight:
- Firstly what it means to be human, our needs, our longings, our desire for transcendence, our search for meaning and purpose in life.
- Secondly what it means to be baptized, the fact that everyone baptized is called to be a priest of Jesus Christ, lay person, religious and priest.
- Thirdly we reflected on the priestly call of some to be sacramental ministers, to live out our lives in a special way as followers of the disciples of Jesus.
The Liberating Ministry of Jesus and His Ministers
According to St. Luke in today’s Gospel the ministry of Jesus is something in which we all participate in various ways. Itwill have much to do with freeing people from things which hold them captive and particularly from the enslaving power of sin in its variousforms. His ministry therefore will involve liberation which Jesus expresses in terms of “the acceptable year of the Lord”, a time when people will be welcomed and accepted, when their dignity will be recognised. This will involve a hand being held out to the afflicted, the trapped and the bound. This will also determine our ministry as women andmenwho continue His work.
Challenges of Modern Living
The ever-increasing demands of lifetoday mean that people have less time to spend on relationships, children, parents,family,friends, co-workers ina leisure capacity and involuntary groups. At times, one suspects that people are created to serve markets whereasin realitymarkets were made to serve the people. In our Christian understanding of God we are invited to become his partners in the on-going work of creation and re-creationand permeating all of this to have an onging spirit of prayerfulness, awareness of God and contemplation. The God who gave us the gift of freedom asks us to use it to honour and enhance the freedom of othersand give people hope. After all we are in the business of building hope as the name of our diocesan plan is Builders of Hope!
The Challenge of Change – Transitory Lives
Living as we do in a time of rapid cultural change with its non-stop transformation can be deeply unsettling. We witness the breakdown of the institutions of social life. In the past people were ableto cope with change because there were certain constants the could be relied on for guidance and stability. There were aspects of life which did not change. People had a sense of economic, personal and geographical continuity. However, in recent times the traditional family unit and marriageis rapidly being eroded by serial relationships, co-habitation, divorce and a redefinition of marriage. Stability in vocation and seeing things as a life long commitment is challenged by this new way of thinking that is part of our ‘throw away culture’ that views everything as temporary, transitory and devoid of permanence. Furthering this acceleration of change, very sadly and profoundly upsetting for many if not all of us here is the erosion of the very guarantee of the protection of life itself. What makes this so sad is that the right to existence of some of the most vulnerable of humanity are under threat of extinction in the coming months. With all this flux of change we face the maximum of uncertainty with the minimum of resources to protect us against insecurity. Change has become systemic. We no longer feel a sense of control over our lives. Great forces that surround us –ideological campaigns,financial markets, currency movements, technological change, the international arena, are becoming ever more volatile, complex and unpredictable.
The Positive effects of change
However, change need not necessarily be all negative. In our diocese we are undergoing big changes both structurally and personnel wise and exploring a new way of doing ministry in an inclusive way and it is hoped that it will unleash a new form of positive and creative energy that will help us in the pastoral reality to which we now minister.
Anticipation of the good 2018 has to offer
Despite the many challenges to faith already in this year, 2018 there is so much to look forward to in terms of inspiration and renewal and opportunity for evangelization and mission with the World Meeting of Families and the visit of Pope Francis. So where does this inspiring faith point us to in terms of concrete action?
The Gift that faith has to offer
The consumerisation of societyin which we live at presentcan be very subtle and seductive but it can also have dark sides. As long as there is hunger, poverty and treatable disease in our world, there is work for us to do. As long as there is un-employment and homelessness, depression and despair, we are being challenged. We do not seek to impose our religious conviction on society, but surely we must seek to bring the insights of our faith to the public conversations about the principles for which we stand and the values we share.
Search for Direction
In uncharted territory we needdirection, we needa compass, a reliable Sat Nav. Can our faith provide such? In an age of uncertainty religious faith reminds us that we are not alone, nor are we bereft of guidance from the past.
Ministry as Priest inthecontemporary world
This will determine the way in which we minister. As priests we are “sent”. We are sent by Jesus Christ and sent to proclaim Jesus. There will always be the human temptation to preach and present ourselves rather than Christ. We can make all kinds of excuses, resort to self-pity, become despondent in the face of theculture and the climate in which we minister. However,if we are not preaching Jesus Christ then we betray not just the Christ who called us and sent us but also the people to whom we are sent. Today as priests we work with, learn from, are influenced by God’s people. We have responsibility for providing pastoral care in a compassionate warm and human fashion. We represent Christ but we also represent a Church which has a human as well as asinful dimension. This well documented sinful dimension, which of course needed to be exposed should not however allow The Good News, the great Hope of Builders of Hope to be swallowed up and smothered. This great news of Easter Week and the Resurrection is at the core of what we believe as ones sent by Jesus Christ.
The Mystery of the Cross – Holy Week
During this Holy Weekand especially in the Triduum that begins tomorrowwe focus on the great paschal mystery at the heart of our faith – we take courage and strength and direction from the Cross of Jesus Christ. The great Carthusian motto captures it in a very succinct way “Stat crux dum volvitur orbis” – The Cross is steady while the world is turning. May the fruit of the tree of the passion of Christ fall on all of us during this Holy Week and always.
Holy Week Blessings and Good Wishes
In conclusion,I thank you allpresent in the Cathedral this eveningfor the team spirit which characterises your work as baptised faithful, religious and priests in building up the body of Christ. To all involved in the various ministries and committees whether parochial or diocesan I thank you for the generosity of your service. And I join with you all in expressing our gratitude and appreciation to our priests as they endeavour to remain faithful to Jesus Christ and His message and supportive of you in living out your baptismal promises.
WORDS OF WELCOME FOR CHRISM MASS 2018
Words of Welcome
Adding to Cora’s words of welcome – A further warm word of welcome to everyone here on this sacred occasion! Welcome to my brother priests on this special evening, and in joining with them I welcomeallthe baptised faithful, the religious, our families, members of pastoral councils, members of various committees with whom we share in the priesthood of Jesus Christ and whose support is invaluable.
Weremember today in our prayers our jubliarians:
Platinum Jubilarian: Fr. John Donnelly of Rathcabbin.
Diamond Jubilarians: Paddy Culligan of Carrigaholt.
James O’Brien of Feakle.
Noel Kennedy of Bournea.
Ruby Jubilarian: Seán Murphy of Milltown Malbay.
Silver Jubilarians: Pat Larkin of Kilmaley
Brendan Quinlivan of Tulla.
We pray for our priests, for those who are ill, the retired, those who journeyed with us in priesthood for a time, those who do not hold any ministry at this time, and for our students who are preparing for priesthoodand our deacon Martin preparing for Ordination in June please God.
Today, as we enter more deeply into the heart of Holy Week – it is a special day in which we all reflect on our priestly call, lay, religious or cleric and renew our commitment to follow in the steps of Jesus Christ who continues to call us today.