Cardinal Michael Czerny, the under-secretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, celebrated the ordination mass Sunday of 18 deacons and two priests, members of the Society of Jesus, in the Church of the Gesù in Rome.

In his homily, Czerny told the ordinands – who came from Asia (8), Africa (6) and Europe (6) – to witness to the first scene in the life of the apostles after the death of Jesus.

“In the face of the fear that the apostles feel, which leads them to close themselves off, suddenly Jesus becomes visible, audible, tangible among them. ‘Shalom!’ is his first word: ‘Peace!’ He shows them his wounded hands and his pierced side. These permanent signs of his passion proclaim and prove the tenacious love of God. Jesus sends them into the same world they so feared”, Czerny told the ordinands.

The cardinal went on to emphasise the act in which Jesus breathes on the disciples and gives them his Spirit: “To heal and comfort, to liberate and reconcile, to rise up and bring joy. And to be a herald of the Gospel, a minister of reconciliation and liberation, in the world of today and tomorrow, where everything seems to be fast and constantly new”.

There is nothing new in renewal!

Cardinal Czerny called on the ordinands and on the congregation to “scrutinise thoroughly the signs of the times”, and for this task he reminded them that the discernment instituted by St. Ignatius of Loyola is a tool that can be very useful, especially in these times.

Through baptism, Czerny continued, all Christians share in the mission and ministry of the Church, The cardinal explained in this respect: “Today’s ministers are ordained to foster the active insertion of the people of God into the life and responsibilities of the Church”.

“The Second Vatican Council embraces the world as the privileged place for announcing the Good News. This is how it restored priests to the world, inviting them to leave the comfort zones called ‘sacristies’ where, like the disciples in today’s Gospel, they had been locked up for fear of what was happening ‘outside’.

Being embedded in the world today, “with its problems and struggles, with its contradictions and values, with its opportunities and obstacles, is essential to the service of those who will be ordained today”, the cardinal said.

Choose the uphill path

The cardinal proposed some guidelines to the ordinands to follow the path onto which they have been called, insisting that “there is no map for the unknown lands that are on the horizon”.

In this sense, he continued, “it is necessary to have the courage to be witnesses, to choose the uphill path to the ‘new’ and not to take the downhill path to the ‘safe'”.

Another element to take into account is the discernment of what it means today to respond to the call that Christ extends to us as individuals and as the Church, Czerny explained. Therefore, “onstead of trying to dominate or appropriate this discernment, try to accompany others and always be at the service of the discernment of the body of the Church”, the cardinal told the ordinands.

“You will discover that it takes humility and courage to recognise that we cannot do everything with our own strength”, he added. This is the challenge of synodal practice, in which together we discover the best options and make the best decisions.

“Ask God to help us see the world as Jesus does, especially in this difficult time”, the cardinal counselled the newly-ordained.

The challenges that today’s society presents to the Church are enormous. Hence the cardinal’s invitation: “Let us enlighten the world with the truth of the Gospel, and like Melchizedek, offer effective and kind solutions, not only and specifically to this health emergency, but to alleviate the enormous sufferings of the people of God and of our common home”.

Cardinal Czerny concluded his homily inviting the newly-ordained to “experience abundant grace, comfort and joy in carrying the burden you accept today”, adding “Peace be with you!” (Jn 20:19).

(With reporting by Vatican News)

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Progressive Catholic journalist, author and educator. Working on social justice, equality and Church renewal.