Homily delivered by Rev. Fr Jerome ‘Tunde Ogunleye
I want to thank the good Lord for making today a reality. It is the day the Lord has made as the words of the Psalmist says “This is the day which Yahweh has made, a day for us to rejoice and be glad.” May the memory of this goodness of the Lord last longer in our lives. Amen. I want to rejoice with the Bishop, Most Rev Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo, on the ordination of these three Priests added to our Presbyterium: Oju yin a ma ri ire oo, Alafia ni emi ati ara, Eledumare A ma fi jiikin yin. Amin Ase Edumare.
I felicitate with the three families whose sons are to be ordained Priests today: Irekiigbe, Onifade and Oladosu. May you continue to experience the goodness of God in your lives and may the joy of today grant you the graces to love and serve God to the end of your lives. Amen.
To the Ordinands, I pray God who has chosen you, gives you the needed graces to be good Priests to His people and make you instrument of peace and love. Amen. I have been asked to preach at your ordination and I have to admonish you with the followings:
My Priests to be, you are blessed with good families who have formed you and taught you to be decent persons with spiritual values. You are product of faith and spiritual aspirations of generations. All those of your families who lived in the past have been with you and are here now and will be with you in the years ahead. Always be conscious of two communities – the visible and the invisible. Love the families you come from and as you pray for the living, remember the dead and pray for them.
As you are conscious of two communities, be also conscious of two worlds. You live in two worlds – the materials and the spiritual – like never before. Always seek the spiritual things for all that glitters are not gold. Material things are flashy and attractive but ephemeral while spiritual things might be difficult but lasting and soul enriching. Be spiritual, for Christ has this to say to you: “Set your hearts on his kingdom first, and on God’s saving justice, and all these things will be given you as well.” Also, the Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Africae Munus of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has this for you: Build up the Christian communities by your example, living in truth and joy your priestly commitments, celibacy in chastity and detachment from material possessions.
YOU BELONG TO CHRIST
As you will be ordained Priests today, the ideal of your life is not the Priesthood, not a nice parish, nor a latest car. The ideal of your life is God – Priesthood is His gift to you. You do not merit it for it is part of His mystery of love, His plan for you. Your life is not your own, you belong to Christ and His people. Unite yourself with Christ for that intimacy with Him in you is the most wonderful experience. It is powerful and humbling, and suddenly you realise you would not want anything else in life. Hold the miracle of the Eucharist in your hands – the greatest miracle in the universe for the Eucharist unites men and women of different origins, cultures, race, languages and ethnic groups and the most effective means for building a reconciled, just, and peaceful society. You are to celebrate the Eucharist with dignity and beauty, in compliance with the established norms. (Africae Munus, no 152 & 153)
LOVE YOUR PEOPLE
You are ordained and charged with the work of evangelization in proclaiming Christ to the people. Love your people. I want you to know that two things turn people off. If you are a drunk the people will forgive you. If you gamble the collection away the people will forgive you. But if you are unkind, they will never forgive you. The second thing is never be proud – they will laugh at your back.
As you love your people, they will love you. Sometimes they will take you for granted and sometimes you will wish they could love you more. But look at Christ, you Master, and see His life. There will also be some of your people who are lost sheep, who will lie to you, try to cheat you, use you. Remember, they are all your people. Don’t be afraid of them. Love them all. The strayed sheep, the wounded, the fat and the healthy must all be kept in view.
Please bear in mind that people don’t need fancy erudite sermons, or lavish exotic liturgies – those are fine – what the people really want is someone to care for them. They need a Priest who is there at the important moments in their lives. My dear brothers, care for your people. I remember a parishioner – a young woman whose husband died tragically. They have four children. She put her arms round me and sobbed. This is what God has called you to, John, Alex and Matthew. This is how God has access to the suffering of His Children – through the priest. They are reaching out to God when they reach out to you. And God comforts them when you comfort them.
My brothers, you have to learn obedience through the example of Christ that you are called to a life of obedience. You have to trust and submit yourselves to the authority of the bishop. Pope Benedict XVI advises you: “Live obedience to your bishop in simplicity, humility and filial love. Out of respect for the One who has loved us, it is proper that we obey without hypocrisy, for it is not the bishop whom we see that we are deceiving, but the One who is unseen. (Africae Munus no. 110)
NEVER BE AFRAID
There are moments when you will fail. Don’t kill yourselves by taking sniper. If God has put you in a place then He has also given you the grace to be there. Remember that it is in difficult stuff that you will find fulfillment – even in your failures. You must always remember the promise of Christ that you are not alone even in your failure for He says “And look, I am with you always, yes to the end of time.” (Matthew 28: 20.)
FOR THE YOUNG PEOPLE
My dearest youths, I want to encourage you with words of Pope Benedict XVI when he addresses you: Dear Young people, enticements of all kinds may tempt you: ideologies, sects, money, drugs, casual sex, violence… Be vigilant: those who propose these things to you want to destroy your future! In spite of difficulties, do not be discouraged and do not give up your ideals, your hard work and your commitment to human, intellectual and spiritual formation! In order to grow in discernment, along with the strength and the freedom needed to resist these pressures, I encourage you to place Jesus Christ at the centre of your lives through prayer, but also through the study of sacred Scripture, frequent recourse to the Sacraments, formation in the Church’s social teaching, and your active and enthusiastic participation in ecclesiastical groups and movements. (Africae Munus no. 63.)
My beloved lay men and women and all people of God, you have been called to life of holiness, a holiness which is to be lived in the world. I beg you to cultivate your interior life and your relationship with God, so that the Holy Spirit may enlighten you in all circumstances. Allow yourselves to be enlightened and instructed by God and by his word. Live the life of prayer and pray for the Church, pray your priests and pray for the world for us to continue to live in peace with one another.
Once again, my dear brothers, may God grant you the spirit of wisdom as you carry out your duties in this Holy Office. Amen. Long life the Catholic Church, long life Oyo Diocese, long live the Bishop and all of us through Christ our Lord. Amen.