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From the Homily of the Ordination Mass
7th March 2004 St. Mary’s Cathedral
At the Last Supper, our Lord Jesus established the Sacrament of the Eucharist, and in addition he also instituted a very important ceremony for his commemoration. Jesus washed his disciples’ feet and left us with the commandment “You are to wash one another’s feet”. This corresponds to the New Commandment that Jesus gave us; “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another”.
Deacon Hayashi, Deacon Yamaguchi,
Now, you are to be ordained as priests. As you two know very well, this is not for increasing your own personal honor or status. However as time passes, this distinction may fade, and without noticing, you may come to have an attachment to priestly power and status. You may become dissatisfied when due recognition is not given to you or when you feel under-appreciated. I would like you two to inscribe the words of today’s gospel (John 13.1～15 the washing of the feet) in your heart and to follow these words faithfully for the rest of your lives.
We all know the love of God. God has sent Jesus into our world, and through Jesus has proved God’s love. To witness to the love of God is the mission of the Church, and serving in this mission is the priest. The priest receives the love of God everyday and speaks of this to the people. If he doesn’t experience the love of God-Agape, how can he explain and witness to this to others?
Please seek to live out your duty of priesthood in a life of daily gratitude to the love of God.
As we inform people about God’s love for us, we need a new heart, new spirit, a heart of flesh. We have to renew our lives daily by means of the Spirit of God.
Today, you two will receive the gift of the Spirit and start your new lives as priests. For a long time, we have felt the breath of the Spirit, God’s fresh grace and the action of the resurrected Christ in our new priests. New priests are the joy and the hope of the Church. I would like you to renew this joy and hope day by day and devote your lives to serving God and people.
Today, many people have gathered here for you to share in their prayers and their joy. Let this joy strengthen you as you walk along the road until your last day. Sometimes, moments of solitude, ordeal or darkness may come to you. In such moments, please remember the joy and determination you feel at today’s ordination.
Priests have to born anew spiritually day by day. And what is important for this, is daily Mass and the Prayer of the Church. The most important, graceful moment for feeling the breath of the Spirit, which gives life to the Church, can be found in our daily liturgy. The prayer of the individual, the prayer we pray alone is also important. And please try to keep good health both in mind and body, for God’s grace requires cooperation from the human side.
Before ending this admonitory sermon, I would like to add a few words. Many people will watch the lifestyle of you two and will be led to Christ. The witness which comes from your life is important. As priests, and in addition Yamaguchi-san as a monk, I ask that you to try to practice the virtue of honorable poverty. In witnessing to the Gospel in our present consumeristic society, a modest and simple lifestyle will be important. People are expecting to see our Lord Jesus who lived his life in poverty in your daily life. And also I would like you to attend to each person whoever they are in a mild, modest and kind manner, so that people can see Jesus the good shepherd inside you. In being mild and modest, I also ask you to be faithful to the truth and keep a resolute attitude against injustice. Just as it is said in the words of St. Paul; “Love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth”. Corinthians1, 13-6
Peter OKADA Takeo Archbishop of Tokyo