Be a conduit of grace - Ordination of Steven Smith

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Home > Archbishop > Homilies > Be a conduit of grace - Ordination of Steven Smith

Steven, I was struck by your words quoted on the inside page of the booklet, that upon being ordained a deacon, you said: “it’s now what my life means and what God has called me to.” Tonight you can repeat these words, with even more significance, for you are now to complete the journey of your vocation and be ordained a priest.

Being a priest is what your life means. It’s a strange thing, a mysterious thing. From the depths of your being you know that this is what you are meant to be – a priest. You know that your life has found its purpose. You are absolutely convinced that this is God’s call.

You know that this is beyond just your own desires or hopes. Yes, it is something that has attracted you. Yes, it is something that you have desired. But you know well that it has not come from you. It is not simply of your making. The hand of God has been placed on your life. You have responded. You have joyfully embraced the path that God has marked out for you.

With the psalmist (Ps 16) you can say:

O Lord, it is you who are my portion and cup,
it is you yourself who are my prize.
The lot marked out for me is my delight,
welcome indeed the heritage that falls to me!

I find myself often pausing when these words come up in the Divine Office. They are so true for me. I know that they are true for you.

Steven, over the years of your formation, I have seen you flourish. Flourish in your faith. Flourish in your personality. Flourish in your sense of purpose and meaning. These are clear signs that your vocation is of God. God’s grace has been at work in you as you have embraced the call of God.

Your own calm confidence in this path for your life, your quiet joy in living your vocation, your desire to embrace a life of service and ministry, are all testimony to the work of God in the depths of your heart.

I am sure this evening you can look back over the past six years and know that the grace of God has been at work in you – forming you, fashioning your heart, preparing for this day.

St Paul commented in the second reading that each is given a special grace within the Body of Christ. Yours is the grace of priesthood. St Paul urges his readers to identify what their gift is and then he urges them to live it out joyfully and confidently, knowing that this is way in which they contribute to the life and mission of the Church.

Your contribution to the work of the Church is primarily in who you are. You are a priest. This reality will shape every aspect of your being. You will now pray as a priest. You will now think as a priest. You will now speak as a priest. You will now act as a priest. Your identity as a priest will inform every dimension of your life.

Steven, allow the grace of ordination to flow upon you and through you. Tonight give yourself to God that He will completely mould and shape you as a priest in the image of Christ the Priest.

The Gospel reading takes us to the Last Supper. The action of Christ in instituting the Eucharist as his enduring gift to His Church is a poignant reminder that each day you will fulfil the request of the Lord, “Do this in memory of me.” You will say the words of the Lord over the bread and wine. Your priestly service at the altar will enable your brethren to receive the spiritual nourishment of the Body and Blood of the Lord.

Always stand at the altar in awe of what you are doing. Always approach the celebration of Mass in a spirit of deep prayer and reverence. You are engaged in the most holy of things. You stand between heaven and earth when you stand at the altar. At every Mass allow the song of the angels – holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts – to lift your spirit in worship of the living God.

St Paul, in the reading from the Acts of the Apostles, encouraged the leaders of the church in Ephesus, saying to them, “I commend you to God and to the word of his grace that has power to build you up and to give you your inheritance among all the sanctified.” 

Steven, all of us here tonight – your family, priests and deacons, the Catholic community – all commend you to God. We pray that the grace of ordination will build you up and give you a place among the sanctified.

Tonight, embrace all that God gives you and resolve to stand always with the Lord. Be a humble servant of God and of the people. Be willing to be a conduit of grace for the people you serve as the text you have chosen for the cover of your booklet suggests.

These words are so true, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God.” What you are undertaking tonight – in being all that a priest is meant to be - is impossible at the human level, but it is never for God. “For God all things are possible.”

May the words of Jesus to his apostles from the Gospel reading be fulfilled in you: “You are the men who have stood by me faithfully in my trials; and now I confer a kingdom on you … you will eat and drink at my table in the kingdom.” Stand by the Lord faithfully and he will confer a kingdom on you.

Archbishop Julian Porteous
Friday, July 24, 2020

Watch the a recording of the livestreamed ordination Mass here.