On Saturday, April 25, 2009, Roman Kaminsky was ordained by His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, in the Church of the Resurrection in Abu Ghosh. His Beatitude's homily is published here.
Dear Roman, dear brothers and sisters,
The ordination of a new priest for the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem is reason for great joy for us all. When that ordination is for Hebrew speaking community it is also a rare joy and therefore that much greater. We thank Father Abbot Charles and the entire Benedictine community that host here in this magnificent church. We are gathered here around our dear brother Roman in order to ask Our Lord to pour out his spirit on him, to strengthen him, to guide all his steps and to sanctify him in his priesthood and in his service of the people of God.
Jesus reminds us today in the reading from the Gospel of Saint Mark (12:28-34) of the greatest of all the commandments. The commandment of love is one sole commandment even if we might conclude from the reading that Jesus is speaking of two different commandments. Jesus indeed explicitly says: "the first commandment" and cites the Book of Deuteronomy: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might". Then he mentions "the second commandment" and cites the Book of Leviticus: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself:". However, it is important to note that what unites these two commandments is the verb "you shall love". At the epicenter of the Torah, the Law, of the people of God is the commandment to love. It is not possible to love God without loving His image and likeness - the human person. It is not possible to love the human person without loving, honoring and praising the human person's Creator and Redeemer - God. Saint John explains in his first letter: "Those who say, "I love God," and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister2 whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen" (1 John 4:20). Thus the prophets of Israel taught in the generations preceding the coming of Jesus Christ. Indeed, Jesus did not come to teach a new Torah, a new Law, because the Law of love was given many generations before him to the people of Israel at Sinai. Love expresses the very core of the Torah of God. Jesus comes to accomplish this Torah perfectly just as he said: "Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill." (Matthew 5:17).
Brothers and sisters, and most especially my dear son Roman, in our divided and bleeding land to live the commandment of love is the vocation of every disciple of Jesus also today. Our land is drowning in a sea of hatred and fear. Can the Church, the kehilla of Jesus in the world, give the sign of a different reality? Can we, as disciples of Jesus Christ, unite around him so that the world might see something of the new human person in whom there is neither hatred nor fear? Saint Paul the Apostle understood this vocation when he wrote: "For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us (...) that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace," (Ephesians 2:14-15).
Thus it is "to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called" (Ephesians 4:1) as Paul explains in the second reading (Ephesians 4:1-6). Paul focuses on the commandment of love. Love constitutes the unity of the community and Paul exhorts his auditors to preserve the unity of the community which is one body and one spirit. The conditions are clear: "humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love". It is not simple unless we walk in the way of our Lord. Only if we depend on him at every moment and at every step can we constitute the members of his one body that lives in the one spirit. Our circumstances here and now make unity one of the important challenges to the witness given by the Church. Let us ask here in this place and on this occasion the prayers of Mary, the mother of Jesus and our mother, and all the saints of Jerusalem. Roman, my dear son, you desired to receive the sacrament of ordination here, in this church. Thus you honor the memory of the late Bishop Jean-Baptiste who was Vicar for the Hebrew-speaking communities and is buried in this monastery. Let us ask that he too pray that you might always give a witness of love and unity among all believers in this land, whether Hebrew speaking or Arabic speaking. You are not alone in facing the challenges that we encounter in our life as Christians in the Holy Land because the entire Mother Church of Jerusalem is with you, facing these same challenges and within her, as an integral part of her, our beloved Hebrew speaking Catholic community.
The first reading from the book of Samuel (1Samuel 3:1-10) brings us back to the moment of the calling and the vocation of each one of us as believers and as priests in the community of Christ. The young Samuel's "here I am" is his "yes" to serve God and the human person. His "here I am" echoes the "here I am" of Abraham and prepares the ground for the "yes" of the prophets who come after him. In he fullness of time, the maiden from Nazareth, Mary, will receive in her womb her Lord as her son. "Here I am" is the response of love that expresses the willingness to serve the Kingdom of heaven on earth and to advance it in our words and in our deeds.
Let us conclude with the words of the Psalm, in praise and glory to God Almighty for the gift of the calling and let us ask Him to strengthen you, dear Roman, on your way at all times. Today we also sing a new song because also today He has done wonderful things! Amen.