Homily for the Ordination to the Priesthood of Rev Ronald Campbell
This has been a great week for our diocese. On Sunday morning in Portree, I instituted Tony Livesey in the Ministries of Reader and Acolyte as he prepares for Ordination as a deacon next year. Then on Sunday night, I sailed over for Ronald’s Ordination to the Priesthood. I was actually here at St Mary’s only one month ago but when I arrived on Sunday night……. WOW! What an effort had been made in the Church, hall and grounds…..a concrete indication that people really care about this Ordination. Why? Of course, it is partly because you love Ronald as your son, brother, friend or neighbour and, naturally, there is the excitement that Ronald is a fellow islander …..but it’s more than that. This Ordination means so much to ALL of us. Why?
Make no mistake about it, these shoots of life which I have referred to, reveal that we are on sacred ground, in the Divine Presence. As Christians, we know that Jesus brought to humanity the Good News, the hope of salvation through God’s mercy and love, that Jesus reconciled us to God and to one another, making us the Father’s sons and daughters, the peace of knowing that I am loved unconditionally, the grace to live the new life of Jesus – transformed so much that I become a new creation.
Through baptism, we all share in the Royal Priesthood of Jesus, and he asks us to continue his ministry through the circumstances of our daily lives. However, Jesus also gave the Church the gift of the ministerial priesthood and through the ministerial priesthood, Christ’s ministry continues in a particular way – the celebration of the Sacraments, preaching, prayer, spiritual growth, the priest’s very humanity and so on.
The Divine has been at work in Ronald hearing the Call, just like for Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:4-9). Even before Ronald was in his mother’s womb the Lord knew him and loved him. Like each one of us Ronald forms part of the divine plan, graced with the necessary gifts, trusting the Lord deep within his heart who encouraged him in prayer to say ‘Yes’. But God has also been at work in each one of us joyfully saying ‘yes’ to what God has being doing within Ronald – his parents Michelle and Neil, his siblings and wider family, parishioners supporting Ronald with words of encouragement and prayer, his Seminary, his pastoral placements. All of us are rejoicing that God is at work in Ronald but, because we can see it and respond to it, God is clearly working within us too!
In tonight’s Gospel (John 10:11-16) we hear that Jesus is the Good Shepherd who leads his flock away from dangers, creates one flock from the whole of humanity (no one excluded) and is so committed to each sheep that he will die for them.
Ronald, Jesus is the Good Shepherd and your calling to be a shepherd in our diocese comes from Jesus. Therefore, you must base your life on Jesus. As St Peter (1 Peter 5:1-4) tells us the shepherd of the Christian community must be constantly seeking his own conversion and that very cooperation with God will bless both him and his parishioners. Yet we are weak and conversion is difficult!
In our Gospel Jesus states that he and the Father are One and know each other in perfect intimacy. In the same way, Jesus insists, does he know us! Isn’t that wonderful? We are invited to intimate knowledge and friendship with Christ! We may never perfectly achieve it in this life but nevertheless it is an invitation which we must take up – for our good and for the good of others. Ronald, if you are close to God you will better appreciate the things of God and love sacrificially like the Good Shepherd; you will guide people towards good and away from harm, work hard, overcome selfishness and be willing to suffer for those entrusted to your care. Ronald, please be close to Jesus and remain close to Him!
Ronald, I recently celebrated 30 years of priesthood. I won’t tell you any lies and pretend that it has always been easy but, and I mean this from the core of my being, to live as God asks is a great life. The priesthood is a wonderful way to spend your life! Spreading the joy of the Good News, which is not just a message – wonderful and wise as it is – the Good News is a person, Jesus, God Himself who encounters us and who enriches us beyond all expectations. Ronald, that is your beautiful vocation, to lead people to Jesus Christ, our hope and our joy!
May God bless you,
May Mary, mother of priests and patron of your home parish, lovingly guide you and may St Columba, our Diocesan patron, always pray for you. Amen
St Mary’s, Benbecula 9th July 2019