Vatican City, Jun 30, 2020 / 19:40 pm
Last Saturday, June 27, many churches witnessed the ordinations of dozens of priests and deacons, in ceremonies that were far from typical. Even while some parts of the world "reopen" after the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, social distancing was required, and cameras provided live streaming so that family, friends and loved ones could participate by TV, tablet or smartphone.
On this occasion, I had the joy and honour of ordaining, in the Gesù Church in Rome, two Jesuit priests and eighteen deacons from all over the world-from Italy, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Ukraine, and Austria to Rwanda-Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, China, Bangladesh and India-wearing masks and connecting online with parents, relatives, friends and fellow Jesuits. Physical presence was not possible as Italy slowly recovers from this health crisis; the borders are still closed and travel restrictions are still in place.
The following reflections expand upon the homily I pronounced just before the ordination of these twenty candidates for the priesthood and the diaconate.
Breath of life
As a priest or deacon "to be", you may feel a bit incomplete because you cannot share this very important moment with your loved ones. You might feel anxious, too: we're living in the unknown and in unchartered territories for the Church, for all of us. And as you prepare yourself for ordination, you might ask: what does this mean for me, right now and right here?
Perhaps the answer can be found on Easter evening, when the apostles had locked themselves into the upper room for fear of what was happening "outside". (Even nowadays, our Church sometimes feels fearful and closed in on itself.) Suddenly Jesus becomes visible, audible, tangible among them. "Shalom!" is his first word, "Peace be with you!" He shows them his wounded hands and pierced side. These permanent signs of his Passion proclaim and prove God's tenacious love. And then, amazingly, Jesus sends them out into the same world they were so afraid of.