Homily for priestly ordination at Sept-Fons

By: Pierbattista Pizzaballa - Published: July 01 Fri, 2022

Homily for priestly ordination at Sept-Fons Available in the following languages:

Reverend Father Abbots,

Dear brothers and sisters,

Dear Brother Aloïs,

May the Lord give you peace!

Although it is not easy for me to come here to preside over this important celebration in a language I do not master, I have nevertheless agreed to come and consecrate Brother Aloïs, to confirm the original bond between this religious reality of yours, and in particular the monastery of Latrun, and the Church of Jerusalem.

The first reading you chose speaks of the prophet Amos' vision of the House of David and the people of Israel. At that time, they were experiencing internal divisions, domination and obvious decadence - both political and moral. Amos did not cease to call them back to covenant fidelity, to the observance of the law, and especially to respect the rights of the poor. But he was not very successful; he was not heard, and was even persecuted by his own people. Yet, as we have heard from today's passage, faith and hope in God have not failed in the prophet's heart, and - like other prophets before and after him - Amos is able to see in faith what the eyes of the flesh could not instead see: the rebirth of the fallen House of David.

The first consideration that thus comes to me, then, dear Br. Aloïs, is to invite you to become, in a sense, a prophet. In other words, to be able to see your reality of life, religious and ecclesial, with the eyes of the Spirit and not only with the eyes of the flesh. Amos, we said, was able to see in his decadent and conflicting reality "the mountains dripping sweet wine, and all the hills flowing with it" (cf. Amos 9:13). For you, this means being able to see God's work in your monastic community, where certainly there will be no shortage of misunderstandings and different visions, where the humanity of its members will surely find different ways of expression. Yet, that is precisely the place where, for you, God manifests, works and builds His Kingdom. Be able to see wine - a symbol of joy and life - dripping not only from the cellars of your monastery, but also from your heart and the hearts of your brothers. It is not about becoming a visionary, or dreaming of a world that does not exist, but, on the contrary, about looking at reality with the eyes of a redeemed person, of one who has been touched by the encounter with Christ, and has thus acquired what is necessary to read reality, not only in a human way, but also in a divine way, making it therefore more authentic and complete.

The gospel passage also speaks of banquets and wine. I understand that the choice of biblical readings for this celebration has to do with your service to the cellars of Latrun! My wish, then, is that you may bring, in the life of your monastery, good wine from your caves, to distribute to all the world. I am not referring to your Chardonnays or Cabernet Sauvignon, but first and foremost to wine in its biblical meaning: life, joy, hope, consolation. The world needs it, and so does the religious life of our Church.

At the center of the Gospel passage you have chosen is Christ. He is the new wine, the source of joy and life. Christ is the newness that breaks into the life of the world, the unprecedented announcement of God's forgiveness for every man and woman, of a newfound communion between God and humanity. But this proclamation - like that of the prophet Amos - is not understood in the same way by everyone. This new wine needs vessels capable of welcoming such novelty. It needs, in short, hearts willing to make room within themselves for God's work. Jesus was welcomed by some but rejected by others. So it was initially and so it has been throughout the history of the Church, until today. We should not assume that everyone wants to drink that wine. It is not always that obvious. Even among us, in the Church, we should not think that, with consecration, we have automatically become capable of accepting Christ and making him the authentic source of life. We need to slowly but constantly work on ourselves to be able to understand and welcome Christ, without making compromises of any kind to various worldly trends or ideologies. You, dear Br. Aloïs, have decided to be a "new wineskin," a "new garment," that is, to welcome the newness of Christ, to make that new wine the reason for your life and the source of your joy. You proclaimed this with your religious profession. Now with the priesthood, you go one step further: it is not enough for you to welcome Christ into your life, and live only by him. You also want to give Him to the Christian community, and primarily to your monastic community, through the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, which you will celebrate daily. You will now have to learn to make unity between the Eucharist you will celebrate and your own life, making a gift of yourself. Giving yourself also means accepting to die. It is not an option, something you can avoid, but the road through which you must pass. A community that does not know how to give life is doomed to death. It is necessary, therefore, that you learn in a new way, as a priest, to make your own Easter, that is, to be willing to celebrate for your community, but also to give your life for it. This means, if necessary, being able to set aside your plans, your ideas, your time. In other words, to keep the metaphor of the wine, learn to offer your community the best wine in your heart, without holding anything back for yourself. But also learn to taste the wine that your brothers will offer you, to recognize the presence of God's work beside you.

This will only be possible if you know how to preserve a true and solid friendship with the Lord. Your heart, like that of every man, needs care, and only in your relationship with the Word of God, in regular prayer and in the Eucharist, will you be able to give concrete form to your friendship with God, which will fill your heart with love. From there you will draw the energy necessary for your ministry and be able to focus more and more on your relationship with Jesus, to refine your feelings by measuring them against His, to give yourself more realistic life goals, to feel a deeper and deeper desire to know Him.

The Church in Jerusalem needs this good wine, and it especially needs new wineskins, people who can live up to the joy and life that only the Risen One can give. We need witnesses who can offer the good wine of joy and consolation to the many who knock on our doors. My prayer, dear Br. Aloïs, is that you may be for your monastery and for our Church that source of joy, life and consolation, which we so desperately need, and that you may be a precious gift, a discreet but fruitful presence for the life of the Church of Jerusalem.

May the Blessed Virgin, Daughter of Zion, intercede for you and sustain you on this new journey of yours in the life of our Church. Amen.