Theme: Mary, A Model of Christian Vocation and Apostolate
By: Rev. Fr. Anthony O. Ezeaputa, MA.
Homily for Sunday December 19 2021
What a wonderful coincidence that the day that the Church presents Mary as a model of Christian vocation and apostolate is also the anniversary of my priestly ordination. The ministry of a priest is to be the intermediary between God and man by bringing the people to God and God to the people. Mary’s “yes” brings Christ into the world and into her womb, just as a priest makes Christ present when he pronounces the words of consecration. As a result, Mary’s divine motherhood is an example of the priestly ministry.
Exactly one year ago, on December 19, 2020, I was ordained a Catholic priest. As of today, I have answered the universal call to holiness, carried out the apostolic mandate “to make disciples of all nations,” and celebrated the Holy Mass among other sacraments and sacramentals, as a priest for a year. What a blessing!
Advent, and, of course, December 19th, will always be special to me. I became a priest during the liturgical season of Advent. Moreover, how could I forget the long and winding paths that led up to the day I was called, chosen, and ordained to serve God and his people through the instrument of the Catholic Church? Apart from that, my mind and heart continue to be brimming with wonderful memories of my ordination as a priest.
Our gospel passage for today (Lk 1:39-45) begins with what Mary did following Archangel Gabriel’s visit to her: “Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.” Mary’s visitation to her kinswoman, Elizabeth, teaches us that being full of grace or favored by God necessitates us to reach out to our brothers and sisters. It is an expression of love in action.
Additionally, the ultimate goal of any genuine vocation or apostolate is to bring Jesus to the people. Mary exemplified this by bringing the unborn Jesus to the home of Zechariah.
A Catholic priest is “another Christ” by virtue of his ordination and has been charged with the mission of making disciples of all nations and, most importantly, of making Jesus present to his people through his actions (Holy Eucharist). It has been a privilege, an honor, and a blessing for me to serve as “another Christ” among you, particularly among the People of God in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.
I acknowledge humbly that I am unworthy of this lofty calling (2 Corinthians 3:5). On the other hand, I am confident that when God calls, he equips and qualifies those who are called (Hebrews 13:20-21). As a result, I am grateful to God for calling, equipping, and qualifying me for the task of being “another Christ” and bringing Jesus to his people during this one-year period.
I’d like to thank my parents, siblings, friends, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, and, in particular, the pastor and parishioners of Our Lady of Fatima, Albuquerque, where I’ve been serving since my ordination. Thank you so much for your prayers and encouragement over the past year. I totally love each and every one of you.
Recently, one of my spiritual friends asked me two questions: “What do you enjoy most about the priesthood?” and “What surprises and challenges have you encountered during your first year as a priest?” I considered this for a few seconds and explained that the one aspect of the ministry of a Catholic priest that I absolutely love is the celebration of the sacraments. interestingly and to the glory of God, I celebrated all the sacraments during this one year, except for the Sacrament of Holy Orders, which is reserved for bishops.
It gives me great joy to celebrate the Holy Mass and deliver my homily, to visit the sick and anoint them, to offer sacramental absolution from sins, to baptize, and to receive marital consent. Indeed, Jesus Christ’s work of salvation continues through his ministers. Despite this, I have encountered some challenges and surprises. I am fortunate, however, to have experienced priests and good friends guiding me through them.
Throughout this one year, I’ve grown in my devotion to Our Lady through the Holy Rosary, and she has never disappointed me. I prayed to become a priest through her, and today I am a priest. In my priestly ministry, I have always felt her maternal presence. Occasionally, when I am at a loss for words to say to those who come to me seeking spiritual guidance, I silently pray to her, and she never fails to put the right words in my mouth.
In every Marian apparition, the Mother of God has always reminded us that the Holy Rosary is a potent weapon against the devil and evil, promoting world peace, changing hearts, and converting sinners, particularly hardened sinners. Jesus grants us these petitions because Mary prays alongside us, and whatever she requests, she always receives, and Jesus can never refuse anything his mother requests. For these reasons, the Holy Rosary is considered the best devotion, if not the most important devotion.
We learn from today’s gospel passage (Luke 1:39-45) that whoever opens his or her heart to the Mother of God encounters and welcomes Jesus and is pervaded by his joy. Besides, true Marian devotion never obscures or diminishes faith and love for Jesus Christ Our Savior, the one Mediator between God and humankind. On the contrary, entrustment to Our Lady is a privileged path, tested by numerous saints, for a more faithful following of the Lord.
Today, through the Mother of God, let us renew our love for Jesus. With filial abandonment, let us entrust ourselves to her. She will bring Jesus, the Prince of Peace and Joy, to us. I humbly request that you also pray for me and for all priests, particularly those who are experiencing crisis and difficulty. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Christians, and Priests, pray for us.
Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Advent
Anniversary of my Priestly Ordination
December 19, 2021.