Paolo becoming a priest
What I am just so pleased about is there is no delay, no gap, no waiting. Only yesterday we were in the Abbey watching and listening as Bishop Alan placed his hands on Paolo calling down the Holy Spirit to ordain him a priest. And now here we are at the first possible opportunity joining Paolo as he celebrates his first Holy Communion with us. Our Gospel which is taken from the instructions that Jesus is giving to his disciples says
“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.”
Or using a slightly different translation :
Jesus says “To receive you is to receive me and to receive me is to receive the one who sent me”
As we receive Paolo this morning it is it seems to me as if we are receiving directly from the Bishop’s hands, who received from the Holy Spirit, who was sent by the Father. And so we welcome Paolo newly elected and invested into the Holy priesthood.
Paolo, you remember the first stirrings of your calling, how a still small voice spoke in you, then visits to vocations advisors, the time with a mentor, the preparation, a director of ordinands, the discernment and study for the Bishop’s Advisory Panel, the joy of being selected - not to become a priest but selected for training , the three years as an ordinand in that training, lectures attended, essays composed, residency at far flung Ditchingham late nights at the bar pondering the hypostasis
- all these things and even a year of curacy have been endured on your journey but they are neither toll nor tithe.
We read in Matthew that Jesus gave his disciples authority to cast out unclean spirits, to cure every kind of sickness and disease, to proclaim the kingdom of heaven, even to raise the dead.
Now this was not because the disciples had somehow earned these powers, they were given them - it is a source of wonder to me that Christ should bestow his power, to bless, to forgive sins, to celebrate the Lord’s supper on anyone for we are vessels made of clay, but you (and I) are a priest today not through the process and the study but because of the unlimited generosity of Jesus Christ. It is this unbounded giving, the giving that led him to open hs arms wide upon the cross, the giving of the sacrament that you will shortly celebrate for us that we give thanks this morning.
And so Paolo we welcome you as a gift - a gift to us all - a blessing to us all