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‘Be Jesus for others’: Bishop Malooly’s homily at the ordination of Father Rich Jasper

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The following is excerpted from the text of Bishop Malooly’s homily during the Ordination Mass of Father Jasper, May 20, at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Wilmington.

 

On behalf of the Church of Wilmington I want to begin by thanking Rich’s parents, Rick and Kathy, for bringing their son to life in Christ through baptism. Also, Brian, we are grateful for your support of your brother.

It is in baptism that the seeds of the priestly vocation are first planted. My dear parents, you are an important part of God’s mysterious call, and I want to recognize that from the start.

Rich, the Eucharist will be the center of your life. Your love for the Eucharist as a priest will deepen and broaden over time. To move into a deeper relationship with Christ means moving more deeply into the Eucharist. Look toward the Eucharist as your daily sustenance, the life of God flowing within you and strengthening you for the service of all.

Bishop Malooly ordains Father Jasper with the laying on of hands. wwwDonBlakePhotography.com

Bishop Malooly ordains Father Jasper with the laying on of hands. wwwDonBlakePhotography.com

Today did not just occur out of the blue, but, as Rich said, in preparing last year for the diaconate, “as I look back on my own vocational journey, I see how the hand of God guided me to where I am today.”

We heard from the prophet Isaiah “The Spirit of the Lord God has sent me.” Jesus himself used this passage when he began his public ministry — and how fitting it is for today when you begin your ministry as a priest!

There is something powerful about the word “sent” whenever it appears in Scripture. As Rich reminds me, it points to one’s mission … about seeking and finding what it is that God would have us do, never forced but willingly and with great love.

For Rich this passage captures the beauty of ordained priesthood. By his vocation, the priest is called from among the faithful in order to journey with them and then, in turn, send them forth on mission. When a priest realizes he is called to be a missionary in his own parish and diocese, the Holy Spirit can do many beautiful and powerful works through his humble acts of prayer, sacrifice and ministry.

The writer of the letter to the Hebrews speaks about the priest being a representative of others before God, just as Christ himself was for all of us. For Rich, this passage ultimately calls to mind the way John the Baptist understood his own call to serve as prophet and servant of Christ. We see this in John’s statement, “He must increase; I must decrease.” When the priest empties himself as John did and opens his heart fully to the love and mercy of God, then he truly gives all glory and honor to our heavenly Father, and the Lord uses him to help build his Kingdom.

Rich and I claim John 15 may very well be one of our favorite passages in the Gospels, for it captures who we strive to be as a Christian disciple, and as a priest. When all is said and done, this journey of faith is one of authentic, God-infused love: a love that drives a person to lay down his life for others. …

In his book, “The Joy of Priesthood,” Msgr. Steve Rossetti reminds us that “people want their priests to be men of prayer. They want someone who is in touch with this wonderful God of ours. They want a man whose eyes and face radiate God’s grace and whose heart is at peace. They want a priest who will love them and forgive them just as God does. He can only do this if he is filled with the Spirit. He can only do this if he is a man of prayer, but this will not happen after one or two years or even five. It will be the fruit of a lifetime of prayer and faithful service. It will be such a slow and subtle change that the priest himself will not be fully aware of the wonders that God is doing in his soul.”

At lunch on Thursday, Rich asked me for any guidance. I said to him, “continue to be who you are — joyful, present, energized, clearly in touch with the Lord. Be present and available. There is nothing to change. You’re already there. Be Jesus for others.”

May God bless your ministry always.

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