Archbishop Peter A Comensoli delivered the following homily at the ordination Mass of Fr Thomas Christie, Fr Peter Nguyen, Fr Tien Tran and Deacon Jean-Sebastien Gery.
What is it to live a life worthy of our vocation? It’s a good question to ask of ourselves, as St Paul implored it of the Church members in Ephesus. His sense of what elements might constitute such a worthy life merit consideration on this day of vocational confirmation.
Paul talks of charity, selflessness, gentleness, patience, unity and peace. We might firstly note just how closely these vocational elements harmonise with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. They do not name tasks to be done, nor roles to be lived. Neither do they speak of a place or status within the Church. They are, instead, ways of living a life in Christ. These, for Paul, are the elements worthily to be lived out in any vocation.
For the four of you to be ordained today—either into the priesthood or diaconal life—St Paul is here providing you with the list you need to take up the ordained of well. To all of us here who are ordained ministers, these same elements are the measure to which we are called. To repeat them, so as to own them, our vocation is to charity, selflessness, gentleness, patience, unity, peace. They are what will form us into membership of the one Body of Christ.
St Paul, as we heard, does go onto making distinctions, not by way of capacity achieved, or right attained, or status assumed. Rather, the vocational membership that distinguishes the parts of the one body come by way of grace and gift. They are Christ’s gifts to allot, not ours to take: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers. They are given by Christ for the service and building up of his Body.
And they cannot work in isolation from one another: no gift or charism is operative without its operation taking place in amongst the others. There can be no apostles without prophets; no prophets without evangelists; no evangelists without pastors; no pastors without teachers. Each is truly a charism – a grace given that finds its meaning and purpose only in conjunction with the exercising of the other graces given by Christ. As St Paul concludes, it is only ‘in this way [that] we are all to come to unity in our faith and in our knowledge of the Son of God.’
My brothers, who are to be ordained today, either to the priestly or diaconal life, may you live a life worthy of your vocation, laying down your lives, like the Good Shephard, for the sake of his sheep, within and outside the fold of the Church.
Melbourne Catholic27 November 2023
Melbourne Catholic22 November 2023