Trinity Sunday 2019
PRIESTLY ORDINATION OF YANBO CHEN AND GERHARD OSTHUES
Of the Society of Divine Word
Homily notes of
Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin
Archbishop of Dublin
Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Huntstown, 16 June 2019
“We join in the joy of the Irish and British Province of the Society of Divine Word and with the families and friends of Yanbo Chen and Gerhard Osthues as we celebrate their ordination to the priesthood of Jesus Christ on this the Feast of the Most Blessed Trinity.
The Trinity is one of the most basic teachings of our faith. One of the first prayers each of us learned at home was making the Sign of the Cross, in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. All the creeds – the fundamental professions of our faith – are also set out in the framework of our belief in God Father, Son and Holy Spirit, just as we are all baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Yet we do not often speak about the Blessed Trinity. We talk of it as a mystery. However,mystery does not mean a puzzle that we will never really understand. Mystery is something that we enter into and come to understand a little better as we move through life, though entering ever more deeply into it. The mystery of the Blessed Trinity is a mystery about a relationship and relationships cannot be described in mathematical graphs. Relationships are always something lived. The love of God is at the root of the entire Trinity. Our God is not a closed, isolated God. Our God is a God of love. He is a God who reaches out and communicates with us.
How does God communicate with us? We often forget that God revealed himself first of all in creation and beauty. Creation is the fruit of and the expression of God’s love and must be maintained in its integrity in a spirit of love and not just be used orexploited or simply neglected just as it pleases us.
God reveals himself in all of creation, but within that creation, he reveals himself in a special way in the creation of humankind. We are created in God’s image. Our call as Christians is always a call to love and a call to establish relationships of love within the human family.
The greatest revelation of God’s love comes to us however in Jesus himself. He shows us truly what God’s love and mercy are like.
This afternoon our two brothers Yanbo Chan and Gerhard Osthues are called to priestly ordination. They are called to be ministers of God’s mercy and love. They are called to preach the Word, they are called to be ministers of reconciliation; they are called to be witness in their lives that what God’s love means.
Too often we have turned God of tenderness and compassion into a God who sets out abstract rules that are applied with the harshness of our human idea of justice. God is not like that. Our God is a God of mercy.
God’s mercy is different to the calculated and measured and conditional mercy of our hearts. Our secularised world can indeed be a very harsh and unforgiving world and believers can easily fall into that same culture. A judgemental Church will rarely lead people to know Jesus. Only a Church thatwitnesses uncompromisingly to the God of love will touch the heart of people and of the society in whichwe live.
Ordination is a gift to be received. Ministry in the Church is never something through which I as an individual seek to promote myself. Celebrity ministry inevitably turns out to be celebration of myself and who I think I am. True ministry is the difficult challenge of allowing Jesus and his message and his ministry to appear through me.
Priesthood is a ministry of witness to Jesus Christ. Jesus allows us to be his ministers despite our poverty and our sinfulness. Indeed, it is recognition of our weakness that allows us to understand better and to witness more authentically to the mercy that Jesus brings to every sinner. When we become self-centred or use ministry for our own self-aggrandisement that we can quickly fall into that arrogance which drives sinners away from Jesus and damages the very nature of the Church.
Yanbo and Gerhard, priestly ministry involves configuration with Jesus Christ. Priestly ordination is unique in that enables the priest to act in persona Christi. The rite of ordination reminds us that the priest “must imitate the mystery he celebrates and model his life on the mystery of the Lord’s cross”. To do this he must know Jesus. He must read the scriptures. He must be a man of prayer. He must identify with the Jesus he calls down on our altarsbringing Jesus sacrificial love among us.
The prayer of consecration that I shall pray in a few moments is a striking synopsis of the theology of priesthood. It is not enough to know that theology;the priest is called to make his own what that theology means.
Yanbo and Gerhard, you are called to witness to the person of Jesus in the concrete world of today and to accompany the men and women you encounter on their journey to experience what being close to Jesus means.
There is one thing I believe that troubled people today – and not just troubled people – look for when they turn to us for help and for which we are becoming less and less fit-for-purpose in responding. It is a simple word: time. The sick, the troubled, the lonely, those who are searching, those who are mourning, those who are angry all seek the gift of our time.
And we are becoming ever busier! I was struck by a comment of Pope Francis in his homily of last Sunday, the Feast of Pentecost. He noted: “the more we use the social media, the less social we are becoming”.
Having time is an attitude. Jesus found time in his healing ministry to lay hands on each of those he cured. Giving time is a placing of ourselves on the same level as the other, rather than hastily either judging or imposing our solution to their problem or even running away as quickly as we can from engaging.
A second human quality that is important for the priest today in our often harsh world is joy. Our joy is not superficial; it is a joy that is rooted in the hope that is in us through faith.
Divine Word missionaries are always missionaries. The men and women we journey with in our ministry will be won for the message of Jesus through attraction, through being attracted by the way we witness to Jesus. Saint Paul reminds us that “if you have hope this will make you cheerful”. Faith in Jesus brings hope and brings cheerfulness, never despair and resignation and gloom.
Yanbo and Gerhard, you are called to be priestsof Jesus Christ at a wonderful time in history. Yes,we have to take note of the fact that many people here in Ireland are drifting away from the practice of their faith or even from any identification with the Church. There are reasons why some of the services that we have provided in the past must be re-examined in the light of a changed situation.
We may have to make practical reductions in some areas, but we must never give the impression that the Church is into downsizing mode regardingwhat is its essential mission. People will today come to Jesus in ways that are different to the traditional presence of the Church in society. They will come to understand Jesus in a language that may not have been the traditional language of evangelization.
You will have the opportunity to meet people where they are and to lead them step by step into the knowledge of the wonders of faith. May the Lord strengthen you in your calling.”