On this day, 17 years ago, June 8th, 1997, I was ordained to the priesthood in St. Kevin's Church, Kilnamanagh, Dublin the parish where I grew up in and the parish where, ten years before I left to join the Capuchin Order.
I am looking back today in particular because today is Pentecost Sunday, the birthday of the Church. Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles to fortify them to do his work on earth. From the upper room where the door was closed, they were filled with the seven gifts of the Spirit which enabled them to un-lock the door and go out into the whole world fearlessly.
Fear is a terrible chain around people. It kills our joy and robs us of our ability to smile and laugh and share with others. It keeps us locked in the room where people find it hard to reach out to us. Several times in the gospels, when Jesus came into the presence of his disciples and others he said "Peace be with you." and "Do not be afraid." When the Angel Gabriel came to tell Mary that she was going to the Mother of Jesus, he said; "Do not be afraid, you have won God's favour..." In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was initially terrified of what he was facing. He prayed "Let this cup pass.." Sweat fell from him like "great drops of blood..." Yet when he said, "Not my will, but yours be done..." His fear disappeared and it had become mission. Pontius Pilate could not understand why Jesus wouldn't answer the charges put before him. "Do you realise I have the power to release you or to put you to death?" "You would have no power over me unless it was given to you from above." Pilate was the one who became afraid.
For those of us in ministry; whether it's lay ministry, ordained ministry or religious life, the Holy Spirit is the one who takes our fear away and replaces it with action. We have been given this gift by virtue of our Baptism and then Holy Spirit came down upon us again the day we were Confirmed.
The Holy Spirit calls us to collaborate in this ministry to the whole Church and the great example of this is the miraculous catch of fish. Jesus shows the disciples where the fish are and they put their faith in him. And when they take the lead from Jesus they net such a huge catch that they need to signal to their partners in the other boats to help haul the nets in. (Luke 5:1 -11)
I am so grateful to God for that day in 1997 when I became a priest. I thank him too for that day in 1994 when I took my final vows in the Capuchin Order. Last year I celebrated 25 years since I was received into the Order as a novice. It has been a time of many blessings and some of those blessings became blessings because they first started out as challenges.
Come Holy Spirit - Renew the face of the Earth....