Fr Stephen Wang: Silver Jubilee homily

Fr Stephen Wang, Rector of the Venerable English College in Rome, gave the next homily at a particular Mass lately, marking his Silver Jubilee – the twenty fifth anniversary of his ordination.When he was a younger movie director Stephen Spielberg turned well-known for his so-called response photographs. He did not invent them, however they turned his trademark. Whenever a rare occasion takes place in a Spielberg movie, he cuts to the faces of those that are witnessing it. The nice white shark lastly seems in Jaws, however we – the viewers – do not see the shark, we see the horrified face of Roy Schneider on the seashore. The spaceship descends from the Wyoming clouds on the finish of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, however we see the face of Richard Dreyfuss full of a childlike surprise. Why? Because you see extra, you perceive extra, if you see the faces of those that are seeing for the very first time.This is what occurs within the Gospel at this time. St John the Baptist sees Jesus coming in the direction of him, and we stay focussed on St John and his reactions. We see the surprise on his face – he’s utterly overwhelmed by his encounter with Jesus. We hear his testimony. Yes, he is pointing away from himself, “Look, there may be the Lamb of God!” But on this passage we’re struck by the finger which factors as a lot as by the individual it’s pointing in the direction of.This is why, in our church buildings, now we have photographs of the saints, and particularly of their faces. The mild of Jesus Christ is typically too shiny to be seen clearly, so we want it to be refracted by the lives and religion of the saints. As the poet Gerald Manley Hopkins wrote: “for Christ performs in ten thousand locations, / Lovely in limbs, and beautiful in eyes not his / To the Father by the options of males’s faces.”It’s a beautiful Gospel studying to have for an anniversary Mass that celebrates the present of priesthood. It highlights two points of the priesthood.On the one hand, each priest, certainly each Christian, is supposed to level away from himself. It’s not about me, it is about him, Jesus Christ, and his Holy Church. It’s about grace, as St Paul says in his very first phrase to the Church in Corinth: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”. It’s in regards to the religion of the Church and never about my strengths or weaknesses.Remember the phrases of the Mass: “Look not on our sins however on the religion of your Church”.It was mentioned of St Dominic that he spent each waking second both chatting with God or about God. I am unable to declare to have lived as much as St Dominic’s instance, however a part of the enjoyment of priesthood is what number of alternatives there are to be with the Lord and to talk about the Lord. You are on the altar, celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; then in a college meeting, speaking in regards to the Gospel to younger youngsters; then within the native jail listening to confessions; then on the hospital to anoint the sick and the dying; then again to the parish for a night of catechesis or evangelisation. All of this in a single day: to not show that the priest needs to be busy on a regular basis, however to point out that the priesthood is a life for others, a life for God, a mission – as Isaiah says at this time – that’s meant to succeed in to the ends of the earth.So like St John the Baptist, we’re pointing away from ourselves. But then again, we will not assist talking about how the Lord has touched our personal lives personally. St Thomas Aquinas wrote that an energetic lifetime of ministry calls us “handy on to others the fruits of our personal contemplation”. In this Gospel passage St John does simply that – he provides his private testimony. He says: I actually didn’t know him – however then I did know him, and now I’m telling you what I’ve seen.We can not help sharing our personal lives. St Paul says to the Thessolonians, “We had been able to share with you not solely the gospel of God but in addition our personal selves”. In a parish group clergymen are known as to be brothers and sons in addition to fathers, and now we have to study – to make use of a phrase – “applicable self-disclosure”. Not being a showman or taking an ego-trip, however having the humility and braveness to talk, generally, about what the Lord has executed in our lives and to share our lives with others. There is a vulnerability on this.The priesthood isn’t an impersonal ministry: we’re not parrots repeating summary truths, or AI bots delivering pro-forma responses on behalf of the company HQ. We are males of flesh and blood, wounded males, whose lives have however been marked by religion, who’ve mentioned sure due to a deep sense of calling. It’s private.I’m so grateful to God for his love, for his kindness in calling me to be a priest, and for these 25 years of priesthood. I’m so grateful to the Lord, to household and mates, to the various clergymen I’ve identified, and to the folks of the communities through which I’ve lived and served.What’s obtained in the way in which? Sin. Fear. Moments of despair, when issues have gone unsuitable or I could not see a method ahead. Being over-busy. Relying by myself energy an excessive amount of. Forgetting the goodness or the humanity of the folks round me. Forgetting God’s holy presence.What’s saved me going? Prayer. The Mass. Confession. The Virgin Mary. Spiritual path. My annual retreat. I’m sorry it seems like a seminary convention nevertheless it’s true. And I’d add to this record of graces which have sustained me: Friends and household. Wise clergymen and bishops. The communities I’ve lived and labored in. Loving and supportive colleagues. And, after all, films!When I used to be a schoolboy in St Albans within the Eighties, the large pillars of the medieval Cathedral had been utterly white: no photographs, no color. When I went again to go to ten years later there have been brightly colored photographs of Jesus and the saints on virtually each pillar.They weren’t newly painted – they had been from the Middle Ages. The had been whitewashed over throughout the Reformation, and now that they had been uncovered and restored. Today you’ll be able to see the face of Jesus within the faces of the saints; you’ll be able to see – going again to Gerard Manley Hopkins – Christ taking part in in ten thousand locations.One very particular privilege of being a priest is seeing the love of Christ in so many individuals’s lives; seeing his divine picture in so many human faces. And one of many duties of the priest is to assist reveal his face and uncover his picture.He’s right here. He’s in you. He’s in your life. Maybe you do not at all times see him. But what a beautiful blessing: to see him just a bit bit extra every day, after which to see him – with all of the others who lengthy to see him – when he comes once more in Glory.[A homily at a Mass to celebrate 25 years of priesthood, 15 Jan 2023, the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, the Venerable English College]

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