Martes, 03 de diciembre de 2013

En la Catedral de Kingston, en Jamaica, dedicada a la Santísima Trinidad, el Prefecto de la Congregación para la Evangelización de los Pueblos presidió la tarde del Domingo, 1 de diciembre una misa solemne en el primer domingo de Adviento, para la celebración de la clausura del Año de la Fe y la ordenación sacerdotal del Diácono Brad Smith. Estuvieron presentes, además del Nuncio Apostólico Su Exc. Mons. Nicholas Girasoles, varios obispos, sacerdotes, religiosos y laicos, así como representantes de las autoridades gubernamentales. (Fides)

HOMILY.
First Sunday of Advent: Conclusion of the Year of Faith and Priestly Ordination
Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Kingston, Jamaica – December 1, 2013

(Is 2:1-5, Ps 122: 1-9, Rom 13:11-14, Mt 24:37-44)

 

Dear brother Bishops, Dear priests and religious serving the Church in Jamaica,

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

1.  Greetings:  It is with great joy that I join with you in celebrating this solemn Liturgy for the First Sunday of Advent at the conclusion of the Year of Faith, during which the Church in Jamaica will celebrate the Ordination of Deacon Brad Smith to the Ministerial Priesthood.

First, I would like to thank the Archbishop of Kingston, His Grace Charles Henry Dufour for his kind invitation and warm welcome. I also acknowledge the retired Archbishops, Their Graces Donald Reece and Edgerton Clarke, who continue to serve the Church through their prayers and personal generosity. I would further like to acknowledge the presence of the other Bishops present with us; Archbishop Nicola Girasoli, the Papal Nuncio in Jamaica, Bishop Neil Tiedemann of Mandeville and the recently consecrated Bishop Burchell McPherson of Montego Bay. Finally, I extend special greetings and a warm welcome to the representatives of the Government of Jamaica and other distinguished officials that have come to share in today’s Liturgy, (in particular to Sir Patrick Linton Allen, Governor General and to the Right Honorable Portia Simpson-Miller, Prime Minister and Head of the Jamaican Government).

2.  Liturgical Season:  In days to come, all nations shall stream toward the LORD’s house: many peoples shall come and say: come, let us climb to the house of God that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths (cf. Is. 2).

The hope expressed in this passage has now been realized in the Mystery of the Incarnation, a Mystery that the Church will solemnly celebrate liturgically after completing her annual Advent preparation, which she begins today. Jesus Christ and the Church that he established, with Peter as head of the Apostolic College, is the “house” established as the “highest mountain and raised above the hills.” People of every nation are now climbing the mountain of the Lord, to this “house of God.” Indeed, all of us are now invited, in the words of the psalmist, to “go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.”

Let us also remember St. Paul’s admonition, that it is the hour for [us] to awake from our laziness and comfort.  Indeed, we need to adjust our attitudes and actions so as to make of ourselves instruments of profound adherence to Christ in daily life and work, in our moral choices, and in the service of charity.

3.  The Mission to Evangelize.  Last July, in his talk to the Bishops in Brazil, the Holy Father invited everyone in the Church to respond to the vocation of “Missionary discipleship... The missionary disciple, said the Pope, is a self-transcending subject, a subject projected towards encounter: an encounter with the Master (who anoints us as his disciples) and an encounter with men and women who await the message.”

There is urgency in the Holy Father’s words. The world is in need of the Good News of Jesus Christ and we are the ones being sent out to announce it. This sense of urgency and expectation is also a central theme during the season of Advent, which reminds us that we are now in a period of waiting, expecting the Lord to come again, to judge the living and the dead and to bring all things to completion. We must be prepared, vigilant, and engaged in the mission of Christ. Because, as the Lord tells us today’s Gospel, “for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come” (Mt. 24:44).

The Church in Jamaica faces many challenges in its mission to make the love of God visible, of announcing the Risen Lord, and of inviting people into full communion with him, within his Mystical Body, which he founded on the Apostles united with Peter. 

One challenge is the arrival of a secularist world view that relativizes the Faith, creating laissez-faire attitudes, which have led to ambiguity in moral values and doubt, which has resulted in a diminishment in the practice of the faith, especially among the young. Linked to this is another great challenge, namely, the presence of the poor, who were no recipients of the economic benefits of development.

Especially you, dear young people: do not be afraid to respond to Jesus’ voice, calling you to offer your lives in his service. God’s People are hungry for the Bread of Life. They are thirsting for compassion, understanding, and mercy. Open your hearts to his voice, because only he has the “words of eternal life.”

4.  Presbyteral Ordination:   I am happy that even as I make this exhortation for a generous response to Christ, we have the joy of celebrating a sacerdotal ordination. It is therefore a splendid opportunity to reflect on the mission of the priest, who is a strict collaborator of his Bishop, to whom he pledges obedience and filial love. The Second Vatican Council reminds us that “priests, by the anointing of the Holy Spirit, are signed with a special character and are conformed to Christ in such a way that they can act in the person of Christ the Head…In the measure in which they participate in the office of the apostles, God gives priests a special grace to be ministers of Christ among the people” (Presbyterorum Ordinis n.2). A Priest is, therefore, ordained to announce the Gospel, to teach the Faith in all of its integrity, to minister the Sacraments, making Christ present for the sanctification of the faithful.  As Blessed John Paul II taught: “the priest of tomorrow, no less than the priest of today, must resemble Christ” (Pastores dabo vobis n. 5). In conformity with Jesus, the priest is a shepherd sent by the Lord to tend God’s sheep, not his own; to lead them to living water, which is Christ; to seek out and bring back the lost; and to minister God’s love to all. A priest must be in the midst of the people, to be a shepherd “with the “odour of the sheep”, as Pope Francis loves to say. But it is also true that the sheep need to recognize in every Priest the “aroma” of the Good Shepherd, in his pastoral zeal, personal integrity, poverty, obedience, and fidelity to the promise of chaste celibacy.  My dear Deacon Brad, you are called to be holy, because God is holy!

5.  Conclusion of the Year of Faith.  This Liturgy also marks the end of the Year of Faith, announced by Pope Benedict XVI as “a summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the one Saviour of the world” (Porta Fide n.5). It was filled with many personal and communal initiatives for the deepening and strengthening of the Church’s faith. Let us pray that these efforts will bear much fruit for the Church throughout the world, but especially here in Jamaica!

6.  Conclusion:  Dear brothers and sisters: do not hesitate to always be faithful to Christ, as I know you are striving to do. To the Bishops, who are dedicated shepherds of God’s people, I say thank you for your tireless efforts in teaching the Faith in its integrity and in fostering ever deeper communion with each other and with the Holy Father. To the priests in Jamaica, I thank you for every initiative that fosters greater collaboration with your proper Bishop and more zealous service of God’s people. To all of the men and women religious serving the Church in Jamaica, who strive to be living examples of Christ’s poverty, chastity and obedience, especially those celebrating their twenty-fifth and fiftieth anniversaries of religious consecration during this Year of Faith, I say thank you for your generous collaboration. Thanks also to all of you my dedicated lay faithful, those courageously building bonds of communion in your local parishes and those who are members of different ecclesial movements and new realities.

I assure you of my prayers and spiritual support, as I offer you to God, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of all the saints. May God send his bountiful blessings upon you all!

 


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