PARAGUAY, Editorial team •
“Every word is worth gold!” José Argüello commented to me after re-reading Francisco Pistilli Bishop of Encarnación’s homily at Pablo David Martínez’ ordination to the priesthood. It speaks to the mystery of personal vocation that “is woven into the soul of every life and in the mystery of God’s action.” It is the essential Schoenstatt has and offers as an ecclesial Movement, where everyone according to their vocational choice and coordinated in covenant, serves the Church and its mission and the world that God has entrusted to us. —
The complete text of Bishop Pistilli`s homily is published here:
Dear brothers and sisters, dear Family, dear Pablo:
This son, Pablo David, who is a relative and friend of yours, who God through his grace has bonded us together for many years, will be ordained today for priestly ministry. The Community of the Schoenstatt Fathers and the Church community has gathered to celebrate this sacrament, that through prayer and the imposition of hands, Pablo will be consecrated for the purpose and mission of the Church.
I want to greet Susana, Pablo’s mother, and his brothers Néstor, Hugo, Fernando, Sister Kathia María, the sisters-in-law and nieces and nephews, and all his relatives. We remember Néstor, who the Lord in his mercy has called to his rest. I greet my brothers from the Schoenstatt Fathers’ Community: Regional Superior- Fr. Tommy, Superior Delegate-Fr. Pedro, Bishop Claudio-brother in the episcopate. I greet the Schoenstatt Family and all of Pablo’s friends that have come from many places to share this blessed moment.
Every live is full of surprising decisions
In November 2009, I wrote a report about Pablo, the novice, that I ended with the following phrase: “I am very happy that he is with us, and I joyfully await his ordination day.” Today I tell you, Pablo: I am very happy that you are with us and I am delighted to be in your story, as a successor to the apostles who consecrates you as a priest. It delights me, not because it is something that I obviously expected. Some want to say, “No, it was obvious that he would be a priest.” It is not obvious to be a priest; a person’s story is not made of obvious things. The story of every life is full of surprising decisions. That is why I reiterate: I am delighted, because you again have given us surprise in the vocation. Admiration overwhelms me to see a boy, who dares to say, “Yes, I want to, with God’s grace.” And your yes submerges me again in God’s mystery that accompanies the pages of every biography, sustaining the plot, tying and untying its knots, until his call, his unction and his mission is clearly revealed.
Life stories are not obvious
It would be obvious to think, that no one would question Christ’s divine power, if they recognized his divinity embodied in his humanity. However it is not obvious when reading the motto Paul chose: “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?” (Mark: 4:41). It is a question from those who are surprised by Christ’s power. Likewise, in the Gospel for this Feast of St. John the Baptist, the people asked in awe: “What will become of this child?” It is a question by those who see God’s hand, although they still do not understand what God is writing on the soul. Life stories are not obvious. They are written daily in: seeking, wanting, assenting, dreaming, and sweating.
The Apostle Paul says recalling Scripture, that God himself is intertwined seeking and finding: “I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will carry out my every wish.” (Acts 13:22). From among many, God found one after his own heart. The Lord who has known us since our conception, and before it, weaving every fiber in our being, is surprised to find the one he is seeking, knowing him. The “I am”: and “I will do it” of every personal story is woven in the soul of every life and in the mystery of God’s action that always accompanies, everyone’s light and dark.
Zachariah, a just and holy man, was surprised by God’s action in his marriage. He, who was a part of that priestly people, was surprised, and he doubted. Until the day that he had to write, what was not obvious and said: “John is his name,” that means, God is loyal. That would be his son’s name.
“What will become of this child?” Who is this that approaches asking for the sacrament of ordination today? John Paul II held him in his arms (2 years and months). It is not only because of this that he is here. He is a member of the Matris Milites (Mother’s foot soldiers). Boys: Is it obvious that a priest would come from among you? Today you would say yes. But those who know colts know that nothing is obvious. However: It is obvious there, in the adventures of this group of friends, brothers, and allies, God sought and found. I will not deny that you helped. The quiet ones are sometimes the most dangerous ones.
Who is Pablo David? He is a son of the Church, he is a baptized, he is a son of Mary (Filii Reginae) who God has called and chosen, who God sought weaving into his soul the plot of his history and of his mission, until one day Pablo responded: I want or I do not want. In the silence of the soul, where nothing is obvious, there one finds himself before God and should respond. The quiet ones are sometimes the most dangerous, because when they open their mouths to say a word, they surprise us. God is not obvious: it is the quiet one…who shouts.
From this sacrament, Pablo David, becomes in Christ, sacrament of his presence and his action. Pablo, as of today, you are no longer Pablo…You are a priest of Christ. Never claim as obvious what the Church conferred on you, live the challenge every day. Be surprised that you have the power of pointing to the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Be surprised and use this power in which Christ, Lamb and Shepherd, is made one in you to make your voice ring and to give his Grace.
Be surprised to be able to say, “Yes, I will” to everything that the Church asks of you. Be surprised that today we kiss Christ in your hands. Be surprised by the grace of baptism, that incorporated you to Christ in his priesthood, today he opens himself to the priestly ministry, to receive the gift and the command to serve the Church, representing Christ, Teacher, Priest and Pastor.
You are no longer Pablo, although you continue to be so, you are a Christ’s priest. There is nothing obvious in this I can assure you. The Kingdom of God, the Nation of God, is not built with what is obvious. The Covenant is lived every day. Previously we said, “Paraguay is Catholic, Argentina is Catholic,” as if it was something evident. Perhaps we remained asleep. The Church is Holy, Schoenstatt is holy, seemed to be unchallenged truths. No. Redemption and the grace, that were already given and do not have an expiration date, is confronted every day with the plot, in which God, who knows what is secret, seeks, until finding a heart conformed to his heart.
Every day conform your heart to the gift from Christ; that today, you receive from my hands also consecrated into the same Christ who called us. I am not your novice master; it is not obvious that your novice master consecrates you as a priest. We are the Lord’s servants, who conforms our lives and entrusts a great mission.
God in Christ does not call us for a service according to pre-established standards. History does not know standards. In the reading of the prophet Isaiah, God tells his chosen one: who becomes tired and resists, that he probably does not want to attract attention: “It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant…I will make you a light to the nations.” (Isaiah 49:6).
No vocation from God is a call to mediocrity
No vocation from God is a call to mediocrity. No life is a repetition of a pre-established protocol. I should be Christ; it is an imperative. The beatitudes are anything but the social status quo. If we are called to a vocation by God, and chosen by the Church for a ministry, it is so that we are a light to the nations, not mere servants of a bland truth. Why be a priest if one is does not want to be a saint? Why be a Christian if one does want to be a saint? The saints are anything but obvious truths. They are stories trespassed by light, like María Felicia.
Be surprised Pablo; I want your Yes, to surprise all of us. And that it keeps you in Christ’s eternal surprise.
Original: Spanish. 1 July 2018. Translation: Celina M. Garza, San Antonio, TX USA. Edited: Melissa Peña-Janknegt, Elgin, TX USA