I WAS happy to see two of my former students on livestream get ordained as transitional deacons last week for the Diocese of Monterey, California. But I felt sad that only their parents, a few priests and liturgical ministers witnessed in person this long-awaited event due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Nonetheless, I saw how their faces looked serene and well disposed to be ordained deacons in preparation for the priesthood. I felt pleased and grateful because I know that these men are ready for priestly ministry and are eager to serve.
As I was viewing their ordination, I also kept thinking of other young men I know who were recently ordained or are still in seminary formation. I thank God for them because, despite these challenging times in the world and Church, they are giving themselves generously and openly to God to serve his people.
These young men will succeed those of us who have had long years of service in the Church. And many more will follow suit because God never stops calling people to serve him despite the Church’s ongoing struggles and crises. God will never abandon his Church!
We heard this contention in the Gospel last Sunday when Jesus made his promise to his disciples to send them an Advocate—the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit would guide and enliven the Church in the different periods of history, be they dark or glorious.
And so, the Great Commission would ring in the hearts of many people, old and young: “Go, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
The crises of today’s times, including the closure of churches during this pandemic, might make people think of the signs of the impending death of the Christian faith. But for us who are steadfast in the faith, these crises challenge us, even more, to keep loving and building our Church, and proclaiming the truth of the Gospel. We’ll remain bold and passionate about our faith because we see its centrality in our life and the world.
And so, we’ll keep on making disciples who are men and women of prayer. It’s through prayer that would keep them focused on the essential matters of Church and ministry. It’s in their intimacy with Jesus in prayer that will give them wisdom, understanding, courage, and hope to trek the difficulties of ministry and life.
We’ll keep working together—bishops, priests, religious, and laypeople—to evangelize the world because we know that it is by adhering to the teachings of Jesus Christ and encountering his love and mercy that would save the world from hopelessness, corruption, and sin.
We’ll keep growing in knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures and how it can become relevant to the needs and changes of the time.
Indeed, we remain firm in faith and love for our Church. We’ll keep opening the door of the Sacred through the Sacraments of the Church. We’ll keep proclaiming and living the commandments of Christ. And we’ll take the more significant challenge of making disciples in all of us because it’s what the world needs now—disciples who are on fire to keep the mission of Jesus alive in the world!
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Fr. Rodel “Odey” Balagtas is the pastor of Incarnation Church in Glendale, California.