Homily by Archbishop Stephen Brislin at the Centre for Pastoral Development Ministries Day at Our Lady Help of Christians, Lansdowne on 18 January 2020
Archbishop thanks each person in ministry in the Archdiocese – Service to the Church.
Many gifts have been given to us. St Paul 1 Cor 12
“There are different kinds of gifts,but always the same Spirit”
“To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good”. (v7)
Gifts are given to us for others …to build the Church, for unity, to help people focus on Christ and not on ourselves.
This demandshumility, respect, and faith. We must avoid anything that may distract people from God, or cause scandal.
Whatever our ministry is, we must try to do it as best as we possibly can,according to the mind of the Church: it is not my ministry, it belongs to the Church and is for the Church.
We are privileged to be able to exercise a ministry. It is a privilege, not aright. It is a responsibility entrusted to me by God to lead others to God. It is not about me!
We must never lose sight of the fact that it is a tremendous privilege to serve.
We do not exercise our ministry in isolation, but in co-operation, collaboration and unity with other ministries. St Paul in 1 Cor 12 after talking about the variety of gifts, talks about the ONE body with many members.
Each has its roles and functions; we must not intrude on each other, (the eye is not the foot). We are called to respect each other’s roles and functions as given by the Church. The sense of belonging together is essential…the ear does not say “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body” (v 16.)
We all belong. The key to unity in ministry is:
-to ensure that our ministry is an expression of our faith in God
– to ensure that our ministry is an expression of our love for the Church
– to ensure that our ministry is rooted in integrating the Word, Scripture into our lives, (not just a human endeavour).
-to respect the ministries of others and not to interfere or transgress boundaries.
For the gifts to flourish and for ministry to work for the “common good”, for unity- there needs to be order.Not just a free for all. Part of the role of the priest is to ensure order.He is to oversee the community to ensure there is give and take, part of which is to ensure that ministry is understood in it’s correct context ofserviceto God and the community, respectfulof other ministries, Christfocussed and instruments of unity. That is why he is appointed to a Parish, not only to celebrate Mass and Sacraments, attend meetings and visit the sick. Everyminister should work in co-operation withthe Parish Priest.
In talking of integrating the Word into our lives as a foundation for ministry we face a particular and dangerous tendency to allow all inhibitions to go out of the window on Social Media- criticizing Pope Francis and others. We must be very careful of what we say on social media.
We need to show honour to each other in what we say.
We can be candid but do so with respect and love
We must watch our words and don’t be too quick to send out messages on social media.
Beware of accusing anyone. Even Jesus was accused in his time – of blasphemy, subverting tradition, transgressing the law & demonic possession.
DO WE CHRISTIANS HAVE THE COURAGE TO PUT THE WORD OF GOD INTO PRACTICE WHEN IT COMES TO HOW WE USE WORDS.
This is what the Archbishop expects of those in ministry
– please do not scandalize
-don’t use words quickly, don’t accuse, watch how you use social media.
-understand your ministry as a privilege,respectthe role of other ministers
-do the best you can to exercise your ministry well to strengthen the faith of others, to work in unity.
-be prayerful, examine yourself, consciously make the effort to integrate the Word into your life
-love God and love the Church.