|Ordination Homily – Barbados - Oct 2|
|2011 - Archbishop's column by Archbishop Edward J Gilbert|
|Friday, 30 September 2011 12:11|
In 1995, while I was the Bishop of the Diocese of Roseau in Dominica, I travelled to Barbados on July 25, to concelebrate the Episcopal ordination of Bishop Malcolm Galt who was succeeding Bishop Anthony Dickson. I am pleased to see that both bishops are present with us today. As I participated in that liturgy in 1995, it never entered my mind that 16 years later I would be back in Barbados to ordain the successor of Bishop Galt. Yet here I am.
Before we begin, I think it is important to thank publicly Archbishop Rivas who as the result of a special arrangement established by the Holy See governed three particular Churches simultaneously for a number of years. Archbishop, you deserve the gratitude of many people. On behalf of your brother bishops and the people of the three particular Churches, I thank you.
A Bishop of Two Dioceses
Today we are here to ordain Bishop elect Jason Gordon as the Bishop of the Dioceses of Bridgetown and Kingstown. The Holy See has followed the common practice throughout the Catholic world. The canonical nature of the two dioceses has been maintained but they will now be governed by the same bishop. In addition, the Diocese of Kingstown has been made a part of the Province of Port of Spain.
The Bishops of the Conference know that the people of Barbados have been waiting for the Holy See to appoint a permanent replacement for Bishop Galt for many years. All the bishops are pleased that you have received such an excellent candidate. Bishop elect Gordon is young, full of energy, a man of vision, a believer in dialogue and process and a facilitator of respectful collaboration. Your life as a diocese along with the Diocese of Kingstown will reflect these criteria. You will all be called to participate in the ongoing challenge of building Church.
I take this opportunity to congratulate Jason’s mother and family.
The Antilles Episcopal Conference
This ordination is not just about one bishop and two dioceses. The ordination of Bishop elect Gordon along with the ordination of Archbishop Harris last week brings new blood into the Antilles Episcopal Conference. Archbishop Harris is a canon lawyer and bishop elect Gordon is skilled in the field of communications and education. Good news for the Conference!
A bishop cannot allow his vision to become limited to the life of the diocese to which he has been assigned. He has regional responsibilities through the Bishops’ Conference and also has responsibilities for the universal Church in union with the Holy Father. For example, in 2012 there will be a Synod of Bishops in Rome on the issue of the New Evangelisation for the Transmission of the Christian Faith. Each Conference of bishops will be represented at the Synod and each bishop in the world will be expected to become familiar with the Synod documents and provide observations on the content of the final version of the text.
The Biblical Readings
The Scripture readings for the Feast of the Apostle, Matthew are fitting for this celebration because we are ordaining a priest to be one of the successors of the apostles. The Church itself chose the readings not the Bishop-elect. I want to reflect briefly on each of them. I shall begin with the gospel.
Matthew 9: 9-13
Matthew tells the story of his own vocation. The way the story is told is very brief and his response to the call is very immediate. However, the truth is that the call of anyone is a process. The Spirit of God is working in the lives of people years before they make their decisions. The Spirit moves unhurriedly and gently. When people respond to the invitation of the Lord, it must have the nature of a “yes in process” because life does not stand still. Always remember, in a non- judgmental way, how many people have changed their minds about various vocational calls.
Matthew was a tax collector which meant he was hated by the Jews and for two reasons: 1) Tax collectors worked for the Romans; and 2) They always added a perccentage to the tax bills for themselves. What makes those two points interesting is that Jesus knew about Matthew’s story and called him anyway. A change in call meant a change in lifestyle. The call of Matthew gives us an insight into the Church. As Church, we are not a country club whose members have never failed. We are a community of wounded believers who move through history depending on grace.
The text of the gospel then refers to the dinner Jesus attended. Who was at the dinner? It was filled with people the Pharisees judged were sinners and who should have been avoided. The gospel gives insight into how Jesus understood his ministry. It also indicated he was going to experience resistance from the Jewish institution.
Matthew accepted the understanding of Jesus about community and ministry. He became an apostle and an evangelist. He surrendered his life totally for the building of the Kingdom.
Ephesians 4: 1-7, 11-13
The reading of Paul to the Ephesians is very practical. It teaches that once a person makes a decision to say yes to the call, the challenge becomes how to persevere and how to grow into an ever deepening relationship with the Lord. This challenge does not just belong to laypersons, it also belongs to bishops. That is why it is one of the readings for the liturgy for an apostle. Paul is telling Timothy how to live his life. In modern times, it is amazing how many people do not know how to live their lives. It is one of the challenges the Church must face: How to talk to a changing world.
Paul tells the Ephesians that disunity will rip you apart. It comes about through three sources: 1) tensions among members of the community; 2) divisions among the ministers who serve the community; and 3) False doctrines.
The responsibility of a bishop in dialogue with his people is to communicate an awareness of the meaning of Church, to facilitate an acceptance of the criteria for unity and to confront challenges in the community. It is not easy to respond to the challenge to preserve unity, but it must be done whenever necessary.
Bishop elect you are being ordained at an interesting point in history. Whether we like it or not people all over the world are being secularised and most of them do not even know it. They are only aware that they are beginning to think and, possibly, even act differently now. A new world culture is being built and no part of the world will be untouched. As one of the successors of the apostles, you must collaborate with the Holy Father and the bishops of the Conference to find a way to talk to this new world culture and to build new forms of solidarity through which we can communicate the gospel truth.
Bishop elect, the bishops welcome you to the Antilles Episcopal Conference. We look forward to working with you for the good of the Caribbean Church. We assure you of our prayers and, whenever requested, we will offer you the benefit of our experience.
We ask the Mother of the Lord to intercede for you with the Lord so that, for the rest of your life, you will share your energy and gifts with the Church on the diocesan level, on the regional level and on the level of the universal Church.________________________________________________________________________________________ **DISCLAIMER**: User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Camsel/Catholic News or its staff. Camsel/Catholic News accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments. Please help us keep our site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option. Camsel/Catholic News reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed. Before posting, please refer to the Comments Policy under Resources