Bishop Vincent’s Homily from the 2024 Liturgical Ministers Commissioning Mass

By Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, 18 June 2024
Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta. Image: Alphonsus Fok/Diocese of Parramatta

 

Most Reverend Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv DD STL, Bishop of Parramatta

Homily for the 2024 Liturgical Ministers Commissioning Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta

Readings: Exodus 16:2-4, 12-15; Psalm 77:3-4, 23-25, 54 Luke 9:11-17

13 June 2024

 

Dear friends,

What a great joy it is to commend these candidates from across our diocese for the various liturgical ministries. It is a sign that the Church is alive. Once upon a time, the minor orders such as acolyte and lector were part of the so-called “cursus honorum” or, in plain English, the path of honour which was reserved only to those destined for priestly ordination. With the reform of the Second Vatican Council, the Church gradually opened some of the liturgical ministries to the lay faithful. This is not the case of clericalising the laity in view of the increasing workloads of the ordained. You are not second-class citizens. Rather, the Second Vatican Council has rightly reclaimed baptism as a basis for communion, participation and mission. This is the essence of the synodal Church: that all of its members are called to be active subjects of evangelisation and missionary disciples. Each member is to exercise the gifts that the Holy Spirit has given for the good of the whole Body of Christ.

RELATED: Bishop Vincent commissions more than 120 new liturgical ministers

The Scriptures we have heard proclaimed this evening guide us in our reflection on these ministries and indeed on our duty of Christian service. The reading from Exodus tells the story of God’s people complaining against Moses as they face hunger and thirst in the wilderness. They wanted to return to Egypt where there was food security but at the expense of freedom. The purpose of the Exodus was that Israel would become the beacon of the new humanity. The miracle of manna was a sign that God acted outside Pharaoh’s monopoly and formed them into that beacon of human dignity. Israel was made to understand that they must pursue God’s covenant of mercy, justice and shared destiny rather than Pharaoh’s system of self-interest and greed.

The story of manna is a precursor to the story of Jesus feeding the people in the desert. As in the past, now God acts not simply to care for his people in need but also to model a way of being together. The feeding is a sign that God nourishes the hungry and poor of this world. All who partake of this meal must commit to God’s vision of justice, communion and abundance for all.

It is no accident that Jesus used the Eucharistic formula in transforming the scarcity of the loaves and fishes into God’s meal of abundance for all. This meal was to prefigure the ultimate act of God’s self-giving on the cross. It was to foreshadow the divine hospitality and abundance of the kingdom. The 12 baskets of leftovers were also symbolically significant. It was a way of saying that the feeding points to the new Israel in which there will be no hunger, poverty, inequity but plenty for all. Those who partake of God’s meal cannot remain indifferent to any mismatch between divine abundance and human need. They must feed the hungry people with God’s gift of abundance. Their loaves and fishes of scarcity when shared with trust and generosity will be transformed.

As liturgical ministers, Jesus’ words to his disciples in the Gospel are especially pertinent to you. “Give them something to eat yourselves” is the command to draw people to the heart and summit of Christian worship. This command is fulfilled in the way you give Eucharistic love to others, in the way you minister with Christ-like humility, dedication and pathos. Just as the poor and hunger are fed, the Church today must bring nourishment to those in need of it.

The life of the disciple is about learning from the master. Jesus had the ability to engage with all kinds of people and situations. That’s because he was a spirit-filled person. The love of God permeated his whole person and character. His word, gesture and deed were shot through with the fullness of divinity. So, everyone who came to him experienced something of God’s love and power. That is also our mission. We are entrusted with the task of sharing the Good News and bringing others to Christ.

Dear friends,

I wish to acknowledge the spirit of Christian service which you seek to carry out your sacred duties, whether in churches or homes. May the quality of your discipleship shine through the way you serve. We must be able to imbue God’s abundant love and all-embracing presence in all that we do. We pray that you may be ambassadors of God’s mercy and the faces of the Church that we believe in.

The Church is entrusted with the task of feeding and sustaining the world with the life force of Christ, the true bread of life. Your ministries around the altar and among the community will convey to others the strengthening and healing power of God. Let us pray that as a community of disciples, we learn to be humble servants of one another. May the example of Christ who came not to be served but to serve inspire us to be servants of the community and of one another, especially the least of our brothers and sisters.

 

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