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From the Homily of the Chrism Mass
8th April 2004 St. Maryís Cathedral
Supported by Prayer and Sacrifice
The priestís ordination is the fruit of many peopleís prayers and sacrifices. And the steps that the priest takes after his ordination are guided and supported by many people. We priests must never forget this fact for even a moment. To care for people, to lead and to help people are our duty, but in reality we are also supported by many people. Among these, today I would like to think about the family of the priest. The father, mother, brothers and sisters of a priest pray especially deeply for him. His family hopes that he will carry out his sacred duty with good health, and they are always ready to cooperate in any way for this to be accomplished. In Japan the members of a priestís family are not always Christian. Even though they are not Christian, they offer the same nameless sacrifice as a Christian family. I believe that the non-Christian family offers this invaluable sacrifice to our Father in heaven through the priest. Today, let us renew our feeling of gratitude to all people who support our priests.
The Bishopís Joy
As a bishop I have served at the Rite of Ordination several times. And every time I pray the Ordination Prayer at the very heart of the Rite of Ordination, I feel very special. The words of this prayer is;
Lord, holy Father,
You shared among the sons of Aaron
the fullness of their father's power,
to provide worthy priests in sufficient number
for the increasing rites of sacrifice and worship.
With the same loving care
your gave companions to your Son's apostles
to help in teaching the faith;
they preached the Gospel to the whole world.
grant also to us such fellow workers,
we are weak and our need greater.
No other prayer assures me so strongly of the connection between bishop and priest as this prayer. I think that this prayer expresses the most honest wish of all bishops. That is the joy of the bishop is in the joy of the priests. When Godís grace appears through the priest and through him to many people, we bishops feel a great joy. On the other hand, the pain and sorrow of the priests will also be the pain and sorrow of the bishop. When the bishop knows that the relation between the priest and the laity is not going smoothly, with the priest he worries and suffers. Our sacred mission which is priesthood is contained in the fragile earthen vessel of ourselves. I often feel keenly the weakness and limitedness of humankind. But that very moment is also the moment of renewing our trust in God our Father who has called us to follow. Let us renew our faith in Christ resurrected, who is always with us, and let us walk forward with courage and hope.
Today is Holy Thursday and tomorrow is Good Friday, days commemorating the Passion of our Lord. Jesus carried out his obedience to his Father and his love for his foes right to his last breath. As disciples of Jesus, how are we shouldering our own crosses? How are we following our Lord Jesus? Together we shall pray that the Holy Spirit will always shine upon us and give us unending strength for we who take on the priesthood of our Lord Jesus, must witness to the mystery of his resurrection through the crucifixion; the mystery of daily renewal of life through death.
Peter OKADA Takeo Archbishop of Tokyo