My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,1
Today is, as I said, a day of great joy for all of us in the family of God here in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles! Today, we witness the action of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church in Los Angeles as we contemplate the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles on Pentecost day.
So my dear brothers — today God will anoint you and consecrate you to be his priests!
The words that Jesus speaks in the Gospel this morning are personal. Jesus is praying to his Father about you. Everyone of us who is a priest has felt the personal power of these words:
Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth.
As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world.
And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth.
My dear brothers, today, you receive his consecration. Jesus sends you into the world to carry on his mission.
And he consecrates himself for you — and for me. And for all of us who are priests.
But what does that mean?
These words today remind us that we need to always keep our eyes on Jesus. In his life, in his words and actions; in his passion. In that way, he gives us the pattern for our priesthood.
So take Jesus as your model, take him as your friend. Live every moment in the presence of God. When you look at Jesus, you will see who you are now.
When we look at Jesus, we see a priest who loves God and loves his people — more than he loves his own life.
Jesus knew what God the Father was asking of him. He knew what he would have to suffer for love — and he suffered it any way.
The most important words of Jesus for a priest — are those words he spoke at Gethsemane on Holy Thursday: “Not my will, but Your will be done."2
Being a priest means, “being for Jesus” and “being for others.” Doing God’s will not our will.
Of course, ordination does not change the fact that you are still ordinary men. After today you will still be sinners striving to be saints. Just like you were yesterday. And just like everyone around you and everyone you minister to.
Despite your weaknesses, Jesus entrusts you today with great responsibility for his people — to be the visible sign of his presence and power in the world.
So you will be Jesus to the people of God — when they kneel before you and make their humble confessions or ask for a special prayer or for a blessing.
I heard the words of a saintly priest recently. He said: “I cannot look at anyone without wanting to give absolution.”3
This is the mind of Christ, the heart of Christ! And you must make this your heart and your mind!
You will be spiritual fathers to God’s people. So always be merciful as the Father is merciful!
Always, the priest must open his heart and listen to souls. He has to discover where people are at and where they are coming from. And, as we know, everyone starts in a different place. No two souls are alike. Every one is on a different path to God.
So my dear brothers, we have the beautiful privilege to help them to find God — to find their way to God.
And when you offer the sacrifice of the Eucharist when you take bread and wine into your hands and lift your eyes to heaven and say the blessing — remember that you bring Christ’s Body and Blood, his living presence, in the lives of the people.
So my brothers, today the Lord calls you and anoints you and he sends you out. Go with joy and confidence.
Give yourself to your people — preaching, teaching and healing! Offer your sacrifices and sufferings for them. Sanctify every soul by bringing them to Jesus.
I pray that you will be holy priests and always try to share the joy of loving God and growing in holiness and love.
And my dear brothers and sisters, let us continue to pray for our new priests. Holy priests are the fruits of the family of God. Let us keep praying for vocations and keep supporting our priests.
And let us entrust ourselves to Our Blessed Mother Mary. As we prepare for the great feast of Pentecost tomorrow, may Our Blessed Mother help us to open our hearts to the Holy Spirit. That we might allow God to accomplish his works in our lives.
1. Readings: Isa. 61:1-3; Ps. 89; Eph. 4:1-7, 11-13; John 17:6, 14-19.
2. Luke 22:42.
3. Words of Abbé Huvelin, who received Blessed Charles de Foucuald into the Church. Quoted in François Mauriac, The Son of Man (World, 1958), 137.