Holy Family Catholic Church
July 25, 2015
Readings: 2 Corinthians 4:7-15; Matthew 20:20-28
Today we celebrate this ordination on the Feast of Saint James; he is one of the sons of Zebedee mentioned in our Gospel reading that we just proclaimed. In this Gospel we heard how the mother of the sons of Zebedee makes her request of Jesus based upon an understanding of a kingdom in which membership in the king’s court or family opens up entitlement to material and political benefits of power and status. It is established upon a political system that always imposes the ruler’s will oppressively upon the kingdom’s subjects. It is a political system that utilizes power in a way that is defensive of the status quo — viewing all who are new and different with a suspicious eye, shaded by fear. It is a system that takes care of the leaders first. The mother asks her question out of an earthly understanding of kingship in which political power and status come from inclusion in the king’s family or national identity — the maintenance of that exalted status also depends upon the willful exclusion of those who do not belong, who are not welcome, who are different, and who are useless — throughout the Old Testament these have included the poor, the migrant, the widow, and the orphan.
It is important to note that Jesus does not respond directly to the mother — whose voice represents the political system of entitlement. Jesus does not address a political system. Instead, Jesus clearly addresses His response to His chosen disciples whom He has called lovingly by name. Jesus’ response is made in the form of a question of discernment — “Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?”
Their response is not one made in easy presumption — for it is asked of them by Jesus. Their answer is one made in the faith of His disciples, called by name, and in direct discourse between Christ and His disciples.
Ellos responden "sí" porque ellos conocen a Jesús y ellos saben que Él las conoce. "Somos", responden en la fe y en la confianza en Cristo, que los ha llamado. El cáliz de la que Santiago va a beber es el cáliz de ministerio (diaconía), el cáliz del martirio, el cáliz del amor sin condiciones, el cáliz de la Cruz de Cristo.
They answer ‘yes’ because they know Jesus and they know that He knows them. “We are,” they respond in faith and in the confidence in Christ who has called them. The chalice from which James will drink is the chalice of ministry (diakonia), the chalice of martyrdom, the chalice of unconditional love, the chalice of the Cross.
It is very important to note that James will be the first of the Apostles to offer lovingly his life in martyrdom for the truth of the Gospel — the first to follow Jesus in the act of sacrificial love. Jesus gives James this grace for James to keep his promise because Jesus always keeps His own promises. Just as it is important to remember that James is the first of the Apostles to become a martyr, it is also significant that the very first martyr of the Faith was Stephen, the first deacon — called and chosen to assist the Apostles by caring for the widows, the orphans, the poor, and the aliens among them — those who were being excluded because they spoke a different language and had no useful standing in the community and probably were not welcome. There is a connection between care for the poor and martyrdom; the connection is the Love of the Cross. This love is the marrow of the diaconal character of ministry.
Without the diaconal character of ordained ministry — the priesthood can too easily be reduced to an exclusive club, a society of entitlement, with an unfocused drive to maintain the status quo for its own sake. It can easily suffer from the symptoms of the inward looking church that is sick — against which Pope Francis warned us in his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium. When bishops and priests are mindful of the diaconal character of their ordination, their ministry and identity is clarified in the light of the Gospel of love fully revealed in Christ crucified — the presumptions of the fearful human condition manifested in the request of the mother of the sons of Zebedee are dissipated.
Un hombre está ordenado a ser un diácono antes de que vaya a ser ordenado sacerdote, porque para ser sacerdote de Jesucristo está primero y siempre que sea su siervo. Un siervo escucha a su Señor antes de hacer. Él sigue a su Señor porque Él conoce a El y primero es amado por Él.
A priest and bishop are mindful of the diaconal character of their ministry when they place the needs of the poor and vulnerable first — and do not hesitate in decisively seeing to the prompt and thorough protection of the vulnerable that are prone to manipulation by those who willingly collude with evil.
Today, Matthew, you are to be ordained to the diaconate in the celebration of this Eucharist. You are to be so ordained because Christ has called you to this ministry and the Church has discerned with you the authenticity of this call. Matthew, you will say, “Yes, I am,” when Christ asks you, like He asked Saint James, if you are able and willing to drink of His chalice. Never forget that your willingness to say “yes” is itself His gift to you. Your “yes” to Christ is to be spoken in your promise of celibacy, in your promise of obedience, and in your willingness to pray for the Church, and in your ministry to proclaim the truth of the Gospel of Christ—the Gospel of Love, the Gospel of the Cross.
The Church depends upon your promise of celibacy to clarify the unconditional love that Christ has for Her.
La Iglesia depende de su promesa de celibato para aclarar el amor sin condiciones que Cristo tiene para Ella. Su amor célibe debería mostrarnos a Jesús. Su celibato debe manifestar claramente el amor de Cristo célibe.
Your celibate love should show us Jesus. Your celibacy should clearly manifest Christ’s celibate love. For this to happen, your celibate commitment depends upon your living as a friend of Jesus who selflessly loves His people for love of Him. Celibacy is not an avoidance of marriage. As Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI said, “The avoidance of marriage is based on a will to live only for oneself, and therefore a ‘no’ to the bond. Celibacy is a definitive ‘yes’ to give oneself into the hands of the Lord. It makes present the scandal of a faith that bases all existence upon God.” Our celibacy makes us poor; our celibacy makes us to rely on God alone; it shows the generosity of the love of Christ. Without a friendship with Christ, our celibacy can quickly become sterile and unclear, self-directed and isolating, and embittered with fear.
Your promise of obedience is not an initiation into an exclusive society or club. It is not the blind obliteration of your conscience for the maintenance of the status quo of a very human institution by an unreflective compliance to orders. It is your willingness to surrender your well-formed judgment to that of your bishop in an act of trust in God for the sake of the common good of the local and universal Church. Your promise of obedience is a free gift by which Christ connects you intimately with the mission of justice entrusted to the Church.
Para ser obediente no simplista significa seguir las reglas. Esto significa que se ha comprometido a seguir a Cristo, presente en la responsabilidad de su obispo para unir y para cuidar el rebaño -- especialmente a los miembros más pobres e inútiles de la Iglesia.
For to be truly obedient, you must begin by humbly acknowledging that your will is to be directed toward the service of others — not at your initiation but at that of the Church guided by the Holy Spirit. Your obedience is a readiness and availability so that the institution of the Church serves its mission, and not vice versa. As Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI said, “Jesus does not come in the guise of a master of this world but the One who is the true Master comes as a servant. His priesthood is not dominion but service: this is the new priesthood of Jesus Christ.”
Finally, to pray for the Church you must first pray with the Church. Your prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours unites you closely with Christ’s love for His Church. It transforms your heart to be more like His heart — to be willing and eagerly to give of your time through interruption by attentiveness to Christ’s voice spoken by the poor and the members of His Church. The Liturgy of the Hours is the means by which you become a friend of Christ and also a friend of the People of God.
En las palabras de Santa Teresita, La Pequena Flor, “Para mí, la oración es un impulso del corazón; se trata de una sencilla mirada lanzada hacia el cielo, es un grito de reconocimiento y de amor tanto desde el juicio y la alegría".
It is the means by which you accompany Christ on His mission of justice shared with the Church and by which you accompany the Church in its pilgrimage of faith to restore justice and remove the oppressive injustice that is the bitter fruit of sin; sin that is vanquished only by the unconditional love of Christ through His Cross. Again, as Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI reminded us, “Whatever the demands that arise, it is a real priority to find every day an hour to be in silence with the Lord, as the Church suggests we do with the breviary, with daily prayers, so as to return within the reach of the Spirit’s breath.”
Never forget, that you are not joining any club by your ordination. Christ trusts you with a share in His mission of mercy and justice, of love and of compassion, the mission of His Church which is its reason for being. He has called you because He loves you and He loves His Church — He seeks your friendship. He shares His chalice with you — the chalice of diaconal ministry, the chalice of unconditional love, and the chalice of the Cross of Jesus Christ.