He preached that the priest “is to break open the Word of God, diffusing its light into everyday circumstances,” setting “before his people the first and best fruits of the heavenly kingdom, the sacred Body and Blood of Christ, a foretaste of the heavenly banquet itself.”
A priest is who “lays bare the gifts of heaven, leading the pilgrimage on its heavenly journey, nurturing the assembled people, disclosing the joy and promise of what lies ahead,” the cardinal preached. “The priest is to be the effective sign and standard-bearer of those glimpses of heaven. He is to constantly hold before us the promise of the fullness for which we are created, the perfection to which we are summoned, by the words of Jesus himself, to seek above all else. We thank God for the gift of such a priesthood.”
Remarking that “every man approaching Catholic priesthood does so in his own particular circumstances,” Cardinal Nichols stated that “today we recognise, and rejoice in, this next defining step being made by Jonathan and, indeed, by his family. It’s quite a journey, yet I know that it is driven by one sole quest, the desire for that one necessary thing: to live in conformity to the will of God.”
He added that “perspectives on the nature of this journey and the step being taken today are spelt out for us in the special prayer, inserted into the Rite of Ordination. This prayer helps us to see clearly the nature of this moment. It states that we, present as the Catholic Church, recognise the fruitfulness of Jonathan’s ministry in the Anglican Communion as ‘truly engendering a life of grace.’ We give thanks to God for that ministry, and, therefore, for the continuing ministry of his former friends and colleagues so many of whom hold him in their love and prayers even in this moment of leaving and receiving.”
“We pray that Jonathan’s ministry is now incorporated into the fullness of the priesthood as understood and lived in the Catholic Church. For us this is a gift, and a moment in which we give thanks to all who have fashioned and enriched Jonathan’s life and ministry over so many years,” the cardinal remarked.
The homily ended with a prayer for unity among Christians, “a unity which can only be achieved in as much as we are purified by the Lord himself. As Cardinal Hume often said, our unity will only be achieved when we are on our knees.”