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Clergy Jubilee 2022

On 12 December, Mass was offered to celebrate the anniversaries of the Ordination to Priesthood of Bishop
Michael Gielen and Fr Benito Velasco, 25 years, having been ordained in 1997. We also celebrated the ordination of Fr Geoffrey Gray, 50 years, having been ordained in 1972. The following excerpts are from a homily given at this Mass by Fr Geoffrey Gray, entitled “The Diocesan Priest: Servant for the Servants of God.”

“I want to share this homily with you as a brief reflection on our identity as Diocesan priests, called by the Lord Jesus and his Church to be priests, prophets, and pastors, ministers of Word and Sacrament, servants for the servants of God. Like Peter and Andrew, we are called first and foremost to be disciples of the Lord.
We are told they were fishermen, poor, rough, unlettered, and at their own confession, sinful. I suspect that Andrew’s sentiments were the same as his brother Simon Peter…”leave me Lord for I am a sinful man.” Here we confront the great mystery of Divine love, the incarnate God who came not to call the just and the strong, but the weak and the sinful to be his disciples, his followers, his priests; to be with him as his companions on the road.

We all know the difficulties we face to be authentic disciples, true followers. To leave the nets that entangle us, the sin that can entrap us, to leave all and to follow the call of the Good Shepherd, to truly know his voice among all the voices that cry out in this world of today. What a struggle it is to give up our self love, and not succumb to the allure of the world, the flesh, and the devil in all their beguiling manifestations. And when we feel ourselves sinking and cry out “Lord save me” through the darkness, we hear the voice that says, “Do not be afraid, it is I.” The one who loves continues to call us to leave, to follow, to let ourselves be loved so that we can love and serve in Him.

But we are also special disciples, called to be Other Christs. In John’s Gospel, Andrew went to his brother Simon and said, “We have found the Christ!” We too, who have found the Christ, are called to be “other Christs” in our time and place, anointed by the Holy Spirit to be through him, with and in him, given for the life of this modern world. To be another Christ is to be Priest, Prophet, Pastor, and Servant. As prophets we are sent out to preach, like Paul to the Romans, that “Jesus is Lord.” Like Peter and Andrew, we proclaim the Good News from God and offer the gift of faith to those who will believe without seeing. We announce the Word of the Lord, that those who come to faith may ask his help and be saved! What an amazing mission we have received, we vessels of clay.

Like the Twelve, those first intimate companions of Jesus, we are ordained to be Priest, to share in the Royal Priesthood of Christ. To offer the sacrifice of the New Covenant, to be the Minister of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. In Christ the High Priest, at the right hand of the Father, we pray for his sinful sons and daughters, including ourselves, that we may be reconciled with God. We offer to the hungry soul the Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation, to gather into one communion of love, the scattered children of God.

And we are also Pastors, shepherds. We who have heard the voice of the Good Shepherd, are called by him to be shepherds of the flock of God. Underpinning these ministries of priest, prophet, and pastor, we are above all called to be servants, at the service of the members of the People of God. Be they young or old, rich or poor, saints or sinners…
So it is my dear brother priests. Like Peter, James and John, like Mary of Magdala and the Samaritan woman, we have found the Risen Christ, we have followed him, and we have been sent out to serve through Him, with Him, and in Him. May our hearts burn within us, may we be filled with the joy of the Lord. May we strive always, as Andrew did for Simon, to bring good news to the poor and bring them also to Jesus, that they too may know the joy that is the fruit of his love, and the peace that is born of justice.

And when we have done all these things, may we remember to say “we are only servants, we have just done our duty”.”