05/01/08 Dominican Ordinations

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Homily Notes of
Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin
Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland
Saint Saviour’s Dominican Church,

Dominick Street

, 5th January 2008

          I am very pleased to be back here this afternoon with the Dominican Community in

Dominick Street

on another joyous occasion, the ordination of three new Dominican deacons. 

on another joyous occasion, the ordination of three new Dominican deacons. 

We invoke the Holy Spirit on these candidates:

Fergus Ryan, Declan Corish and David Rocks,

that the Spirit will generously endow them with holiness so that they will be true disciples of Jesus and credible witnesses to him in the proclamation of the Word of God and in their service within the Church and in the wider community.

        I greet the family members of the candidates and I thank you for the generosity with which you have nurtured their faith and for the way in which you have accompanied them along their life’s path until this day.  We remember also those parents and relatives who have died and who I am sure share today in our joy, already in the presence of the Lord  

I greet those who were involved in the formation of these new deacons and the entire Dominican Province.  This is indeed a great occasion for the province.  We thank God for the gift of these three new deacons.  It is a sign of the presence of God’s grace in the work and ministry of the entire province.
I wish to take this opportunity to thank once again the Dominican province for their great contribution to the Archdiocese of Dublin, both in the parishes you run, but in a very special way for the presence of the Dominican charism in our midst.  Our diocese and our city would be poorer without that presence.  It is heartening to see a new generation of young Dominicans committing themselves to keeping this charism alive and present.

Now, before we listen to God’s Word, let each of us reflect on the gift of new life which has been granted to us in Jesus Christ and recognise the weakness of our response, our infidelity and sinfulness and ask the Lord to forgive us and to renew us in joyful commitment.


that the Spirit will generously endow them with holiness so that they will be true disciples of Jesus and credible witnesses to him in the proclamation of the Word of God and in their service within the Church and in the wider community.


        The Gospel reading we have heard is about discipleship, about what it means to be a disciple, a follower of Jesus Christ.  It is useful for us to reflect on what discipleship means as we accompany with our prayer our three friends Fergus, Declan and David as they answer the call of the Lord in a particular way in the order of deacons.

        The call to be disciple, the call to ministry in the Church is a very personal one.  The call of Philip in the Gospel we have just heard is peremptory.  He is called without any forewarning and he follows without any dispute.  We know little else about this encounter which was to change Phillip’s life for ever.  We have no idea as to what Jesus saw in Philip which led him to address Philip directly in the depth of his personhood and call him to be a disciple.  Discipleship is nothing superficial or momentary: it is something which touches each of us personally and changes our lives definitively.

        We have no idea either as to how Philip so rapidly realises that this Jesus whom he has met and who called him to be his disciple, was no ordinary wandering preacher, no ordinary prophet, but “the one whom Moses wrote about in the law”.  Philip’s reaction is no hasty infatuation.  He is aware that this Jesus belongs to a known family and comes from a particular town; he is Jesus son of a carpenter, Joseph from Nazareth: not an extraordinary CV.  But Philip has already the initial insight and faith to recognise that this individual with a very ordinary CV, with unlikely credentials, is the one who is truly to come.

        The call of Jesus to each of us comes often with unlikely credentials.  The call of Jesus comes as a surprise, not just the sudden surprise of Philip who is called as a disciple totally out of the blue, but also the surprise that the call often comes in a framework which does not always fit our expectation; a framework which requires us to put aside our own thoughts, or rather read our thoughts and the events of our lives in a new and different way.  Philip’s faith was able to recognise in the unlikely credentials of Jesus son of a carpenter in Nazareth, the one who Moses had spoken about.

        Nathaniel reacts in a more brusque way.  He is not one to be hoodwinked by emotion.  He has no natural enthusiasm about this obscure man from an even more obscure town in the provinces.  But he too comes to faith and discipleship.   Interestingly Nathaniel’s call to discipleship is mediated through an initial call or invitation of Philip.  It is Philip who says: “Come and see”.   Later in Saint John’s Gospel it is once again Philip who mediates the request of some Greeks who ask: “Sir, we want to see Jesus” (Jn 12, 20).  Philip’s unexpected call has made him not just into a disciple but also into a missionary: one who leads others towards Jesus, one who leads the dubious and the curious into the depth of a true encounter with Jesus.

Jesus’ greets Nathanial. Jesus shows that he knows Nathaniel, and that he knows him in the depth of his personality.  Once again we see that each of us has a unique place in God’s plan.  The call to discipleship is not an anonymous announcement into the airwaves: we are called as who we are.  

In the case of Nathaniel we have some indication as to what Jesus saw in him and motivated him to call him.  Nathaniel was “an Israelite who deserves the name, incapable of deceit”. Jesus sees in Nathaniel one who represents what Israel really is and should be, one open to understand God’s word and revelation, with all the surprises that would accompany this.  Nathaniel’s faith and personal authenticity enable this first contact with Jesus to change him and to pass from doubt and uncertainty to the recognition of Jesus.

        Jesus welcomes this initial recognition of God’s presence in Nathaniel’s life and he tells him – and us – that he will see greater things as your discipleship develops.

Jesus tells Nathaniel he will see “God’s angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man”.   He is reminding Nathaniel that in his path of discipleship he will see and enter into a new dialogue between heaven and earth, between the realities of both the heavenly and the earthly.  Jesus’ coming is witnessed to by the heavens been torn open, at times in a visible way as the angel’s announce his birth, at his baptism or at the transfiguration, but also through the presence of God’s power and particularly by his loving, saving and healing power in the realities of the world and of the lives of the people he encounters.

Being a Christian involves a dialogue of ascending and descending.  It is a dialogue which recognises the otherness of God and the transcendent and totally other dimensions of his message, but which is called to allow that message to descend, into the real situation of the world in which we live and to make that message tangible, intelligible and meaningful to those around us; to lead, as I have said, the dubious and the curious into the depth of a true encounter with Jesus.

        Discipleship can never involve fleeing from the realities of the world in which we live. Jesus wishes his message to be heard and understood today in a manner which is consonant with the reality of the age we live in.  He calls us always as children of our own generation, sensitive to the hopes and aspirations but also to the sinfulness, the distractions and the digression of our times.   The disciple never flees from the world into a safe zone, which would only be a zone of his or her own creation.  The disciple must be there amid the risks of the world, mediating in the midst of the curiosity, the doubts, the indifference and the questioning.  And the true disciple must be there with his or her own personality and way of living which reflects today the simple words of Philip’s invitation: “Come and see”.

         My dear friends, Fergus, Declan and David, your ministry as Deacons will take place in the concrete world, the concrete historical context and culture in which you live.  Your different personalities, the experience of your life paths, and your intellectual and spiritual formation have helped to build in each of you a strong faith capable of dialogue with the concrete realities and aspirations of the women and men of your generation. 

The path of discipleship of Jesus Christ will always be a path of incarnation and not one of flight from the realities which surround us.   But you can never simply totally identify itself with the realities of the culture of any particular time.   You must always be otherworldly.  You must also distance yourselves from the contemporary world; you must find for yourselves and bring to others discernment about the realities of our time and constantly purify yourselves as you inevitably become entangled in realities which are not fully those of the kingdom.
In preaching the word of God you have the first challenge to understand that word and make it your own, understand what it means in its otherness and otherworldliness and then to challenge the realities of this world with the sharpness and the vitality of that message.

The Christian community is constructed on the revelation of God’s love in Jesus Christ.   That truth can only be ascertained and transmitted in the context of love.  That is the message of the first reading:  “Our love must be not just words or mere talk, but something real and active, only by this can we be certain that we are children of the truth”.

May your witness to the truth in the midst of a world of relativism and uncertainty always be a witness inspired by Jesus, “the truth”, who revealed his truth, the truth about God, through selfless and self-giving love.  May you experience that love in your lives; may you make the communities in which you will live and pray houses where that love radiates for all.  In days of doubt and in days of joy, may you enjoy the protection of Mary, Mother of God, and model of all disciples.