miércoles, 19 de abril de 2017

Ordination and Holy Week Reflection

H.E. Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, archbishop of Manila, was main celebrant during the ordination to priesthood on April 10 (Holy Monday) of Dennis Jones “DJ” Garcia of the Congregation of Jesus and Mary.

Present during the ceremonies held at the Good Shepherd Chapel (located at 1043 Aurora Boulevard) Quezon City, Philippines were, Fr. Jean-Michel Amouriaux, superior general of the Eudists, Fr. Ricardo Chinchilla, CJM, provincial superior of the North America and the Philippines, Fr. Ron Bagley, local superior of the Eudists in the Philippines, Eudist priests and seminarians, priests and religious from various congregation including Good Shepherd Sisters from the different communities led by Sr. Regina Kuizon RGS, province leader, family and friends.

The following day, Fr. DJ celebrated his first Mass at the same chapel with the Eudist priests as concelebrants. Fr. Jean-Michel in his homily, said he wished for DJ and those present that we “may be more and more passionate about the salvation of the world, more and more dedicated to the mission we have received. The world needs witnesses who live what they say, with a burning heart, always ready for mercy, never closed in on ourselves.”

Homily for the First Mass of Fr. Dennis Jones Garcia, CJM

By Fr. Jean-Michel Amouriaux, CJM
Superior General, Congregation of Jesus and Mary

Holy Tuesday Readings: Is 49:1-6 Jn 13:21-33, 36-38

We have entered Holy Week. It is a time to remember the days of the Passion of Jesus. The Scriptures help us to remember his Passion, this memory which will be actualized this Sunday, when by the gift of faith, we join in proclaiming with those first witnesses, women and men of faith: that Jesus is risen from the dead, that he is alive!

The chapter of John’s Gospel that we just heard reminds us that all these events took place in a very human history, a relationship story: Jesus and John, Jesus and Judas, Jesus and Peter, and the other apostles. It is also the story of Jesus with his Mother, with the women of Jerusalem, with Simon,and so on. The history of salvation was not realized in abstraction, but in the depths of the human being, in relation with all those who have experienced disorder, woundedness, greed, and sinfulness of all kinds. God has chosen to realize his eternal project of salvation by entering into the problem! In an impulse of love, he entered the wound of human relations.

This tells us something very important for our concrete experience as believers: our ideas are certainly very important, our worship is certainly very important, but real salvation is carried out within our human relationships.

Dear Father DJ, yesterday the Church through the hands of Cardinal Tagle made you a priest, and charged you to preach salvation and celebrate salvation. Allow me this fraternal advice (which I also give to myself!): The announcement of salvation will be realized only by the constant effort to go to the heart of human relations. Sometimes we get the impression that our involvement, our efforts don’t realize anything. That’s because it's true, it does not matter! The Gospel is like a sword that penetrates deep into our being, into what is true and false in us, good and bad, righteous and corrupt, peaceful and complicit in violence. What Jesus accomplished is this: he went to the abyss of troubled and disordered relationships to bring human beings salvation and mercy. For the heart of our Christian experience is to fulfill our human vocation: to love. The whole life of Jesus is summarized in one word: love. And it's obvious, love cannot be just an idea, it's a reality that must be lived, in all our relations.

We also have to listen to Isaiah: the servant whom he announced is Jesus, and this is why the Church offers us this text in the lectionary for today. It really says a lot: Jesus is the light of all the nations. His salvation has spread around the world, soon we will celebrate 500 years of Christian evangelization in the Philippines! And for more than 2000 years, the Gospel has entered into human experience; the Gospel changes the relations, the Gospel realizes the divine project. The Lord has a passion for his people. For many people, the Gospel is a Passion; for us also I hope that Gospel Is a Passion.

My dear DJ, I want to stop and reflect on two meanings of the word "Passion”.

First, passion is something for which one would give all his life, all his energy. The mission is exciting, that's why men and women dedicate themselves to the mission with passion. Ask the RGS how they live their 4th vow, given from the beginning by St. John Eudes and, of course, magnified by St. Mary Euphrasia: the vow of zeal for mission. I can easily imagine that what John Eudes wanted for the sisters, he also wants for the brothers! Let us be passionate about mission, let us be on fire with the desire to announce salvation for all those we meet. Let us sweep away our little egos, our
need for recognition; Yes, that exists but it is only dust. Sweep it away.

Dear DJ, I thank you for your passion for mission, the same passion that animates your brothers and your future brothers,as I have seen for myself during my visit this last week. That passion for mission is forged in a relationship with Jesus and in the relationship with one’s brothers in community. This is where the mission takes shape. John Eudes said that charity is the rule of rules, and I add that it is the condition of a genuine mission. We cannot pass on what we do not live! My desire is the same as Jesus: that a fire should be kindled on the earth, that a fire should be kindled throughout the Congregation! A Passion for mission.

The other meaning of the word Passion is the one that we associate with Holy Week. Remember DJ that you became a priest at this time of the year. This second meaning of Passion indicates the passage through a total gift of self forever without seeking return, following Jesus, the Crucified One. Love often encounters betrayal, rejection, lying, denial ... as we hear in the Gospel. We are no greater than the Master, and we walk in his footsteps. The passionate desire for self-giving passes through the cross. St. John Eudes knew that, and he himself experienced resistance and opposition. Do you remember what he wrote to the sisters in Caen as he reflected on the meaning of the cross? "Must a new Gospel be written for you, or do you want God to send another Messiah, one of honey and roses?"

Passion for the mission is also the passion of the Cross. The cross takes very diverse forms. I wish it to be for you, DJ, the cross of mission, not the cross of the common life, but it can happen ... It is also the cross of human weakness, the cross of incomprehension. But if it is the true Cross, then our hearts will be able to seek Jesus and Mary at the foot of the Cross. And you can find strength and courage. You are not alone in this because the Lord has called you into the Congregation and you said Yes, in truth and freedom. His grace is undefeated.

These two senses of the word Passion come together in persons of Jesus and Mary. Because “Love” is always a passion. So my wish is that you, DJ, and for all of us gathered here, may be more and more passionate about the salvation of the world, more and more dedicated to the mission we have received. The world needs witnesses who live what they say, with a burning heart, always ready for mercy, never closed in on ourselves. So, we don’t love only with our own heart but we love with the Heart of Jesus, opened on the Cross, an eternal source of salvation. Do not forget that at the foot of the Cross, there was the Virgin Mary. DJ, I pray that the mother of the Good Shepherd will accompany you every day. May she stay with you, to form you as shepherd according to the Heart of God. Amen.

April 11, 2017, Good Shepherd Chapel, Quezon City, Philippines

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