Ordination Anniversary


Today is the 31st anniversary of my ordination. I celebrated Mass for our staff and a group of young mothers who come every month to help us stuff envelopes while Grace, our children’s ministry director, watches their children.  I was grateful for the opportunity to celebrate Mass with this small group today.

In the first reading (1 Kings 17: 7-16) the prophet Elijah asks a widow to bring him something to eat and drink and tells her “”The jar of flour shall not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry….” God can take a little and make it last. In the hands of Jesus, five loaves and two fish can feed thousands. What’s required is trusting surrender.

In the gospel today (Matthew 5: 13-16) Jesus tells the apostles that they are salt and light. A little salt goes a long way to season a meal, to leaven, and to preserve. Salt is not meant to call attention to itself, but to bring out the best in something else. Similarly, we do not stare at a light.  It is there not for itself but to help people see.    

In light of these readings, I couldn’t help thinking about how God took a little and has used it to do a lot. The little is me.  In high school, college, and my early life in the Jesuits I was shy and self-conscious. I feared being called upon in the classroom because I was very nervous talking in front of a group. In the novitiate I was tongue-tied every time we offered spontaneous prayers together and my novice master challenged me, wondering if I should leave the Jesuits because at the rate I was going I probably wouldn’t be ordained and placed in the position where I would pray with people. 

Now, years later, I speak on the radio and in front of groups all the time.  What happened? Grace.  God’s grace at work in me.  And I’m convinced that this grace was channeled into my life through the prayers and sacrifices of many, many good people who have been praying for me over the years. 

Knowing where I’ve come from and what I used to be like, I am humbled.  I can’t take credit for what I do. As I try to be salt and light for others, all glory goes to God who has made it possible.  As Jesus said in today’s gospel, “your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”