On June 14, Bishop Murphy ordained four men as priests to serve in the Diocese of Rockville Centre. The following is his homily, an instruction to the newly ordained priests whom he assigned to four parishes in the Diocese.
PRIESTHOOD ORDINATION 2014
Now to you, Dear Sons, I turn. You are to be raised to the Order of the Priesthood. You are called by God to become conformed to His Son who in the fullness of time was born of Mary, the Son who fulfilled the Father’s will and became man so that we might share in his divine life. Jesus is the only true mediator between God and humankind and he calls you to be endowed with the priestly character so that you too may be his instruments and mediate The Father’s merciful love through the salvific acts by which we, His priestly people, are made one in Jesus Christ.
Like Jeremiah, you are part of God’s plan from before you were in the womb. Like Jeremiah, you are conscious of your youth. But it’s not yourself on whom you depend. You depend on the One who told the prophet: To whomever I send you, you shall go; whatever I command you, you shall speak. See, I place my words in your mouth. My Sons, you are to go to God’s people and teach them about Jesus and his message of salvation. You are to teach and preach not your own opinions, not your own theories, not your own particular points of view. Do that and you will fail. Preach Jesus Christ! You will then be nourishing the People of God. And as you teach, remember that you must also be an example of the one who said: I am the Good Shepherd. I know mine and mine know me.
From this flock, this Church of Jesus Christ, he calls you now to be one of his priests, sent to serve the People he has made his own. They need you because they need Christ. The Church needs you then to be true instruments of Christ. You have been taken from among men and made their representative before God. While this is a great honor, you are not to glory in yourself. You are a priest forever! But for all your days on earth, you are to be the one who prays constantly for your people, works zealously to care for them, sanctifying them daily through the sacraments and, above all, through the offering of the Eucharist, to the honor of the Triune God and for the redemption of humankind. We, like all our brothers and sisters, know the reality of temptation and the weaknesses that beset us all. This truth can never be used to justify self indulgence. Our human weaknesses should lead us always to be humble before God and gentle and understanding with our people, especially in the confessional and in all our dealings with those who need our care, our help, our support in their trials, their sufferings.
To strengthen you in your loving service and reassure you in times of your own doubt, trial or suffering, keep before your eyes as confidently as you keep within your hearts the one, unique true disciple of her son: Mary, the mother of God, the mother of the Church, the Mother of priests. Pray the rosary daily and imitate her fidelity, her chastity, her love. Invoke her aid as Mary most chaste, Mary most pure, Mary our Queen and our Mother! She will show you how to be a shepherd in imitation of her Son.
My Sons, on the night before he died, the Lord prayed that we might be one, As I am in you, Father, and you are in me, that they may be one so that world might believe. Our world is sick and cannot heal itself. But we can be the joyful bearers of the Good News that Christ has already saved the world. We can be the leaders of His Church that shows forth the joy of the Gospel. A joyful priest brings joy to others. A joyful priest is the sign that Christ has conquered sin and death and that we, His Church, live as His Body, belonging ever more deeply to Him, to his Church and to one another.
The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The Jesus who spoke those words to his first disciples whispers those same words to you today. He knows, as you do not know, why he chose you. He knows, as you do not know, what he has planned for you. There is no better example of that than Peter. I commend him to you for your own prayer and your own inspiration. At the very end of John’s Gospel, almost as his last words on earth, Jesus turns to the one who followed him, misread him, denied him, but never stopped loving him, this man Peter. And now he is about to receive his definitive mission by Christ’s great act of forgiveness. I do not doubt that during these years of formation you asked Jesus this same question: “Jesus, do you really love me?” In your heart today you now know the answer: Jesus truly and deeply does love you! He wishes to seal his love of you with the indelible mark of priestly ordination, making you sharers in his priestly life and mission forever.
So now, in your heart, repeat to Him what Peter said three times to the one he loved. Yes. Lord, you know everything, you know that I love you! Yes Lord, you know everything, you know that I love you. Yes Lord, you know everything, you know that I love you. And now hear Him say to you through me: Feed my lambs. Feed my sheep!