First Mass of Fr. Andrej Makovnik, dcjm
First Mass of Fr. Andrej Makovnik, DCJM – Bratislava 19 February 2023 – Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A (Lv 19:1-2; 17-18 / 1Cor 3:16-23 / Mt 5:38-48)
Dear Andrej, dear brother disciples, dear Andrej’s family, especially the parents, Stefan and Terézia,
In the first reading we listened to the words of St. Paul, which illuminate this first Mass of our brother Andrej (who today is also Father Andrej). What St. Paul says to the Corinthians is addressed to us today: “All things are yours” (1 Cor 3:21). Through baptism, because you are children of God, he has given you all things. And among those gifts that God has given you is also the priesthood of Andrej. St. Paul, in fact, includes himself as an apostle in that which belongs to the Corinthians: “Paul, Apollos, Cephas… all things are yours”. “Paul, Apollos, Cephas, Andrej… all are yours.” We thank God for this gift that you have received today.
And what does this gift mean? The Apostle’s entire sentence helps us to answer: “All things are yours, you are Christ’s, Christ is God’s”. Andrej is yours so that you may belong to Christ and thus be able to walk towards God. The mystery of the priest Andrej is revealed here: – Whose are you? – Christ’s! – Whom are you for? – For the Church! – Towards whom are you? – Towards God, towards the Father!
1. Let us begin with the center, with the mediator who is Christ. Andrej today becomes one with Christ. This is why it is said that the priest acts in persona Christi, in the person of Christ. Every day Andrej will celebrate the Eucharist, and will repeat these words as if they were spoken by Jesus himself: “my body for you, my blood poured out for forgiveness and the covenant”. Andrej will call “his body” the body of Jesus, and he will call “his blood” the blood of Jesus. Andrej’s body is now one with the body of Christ that is given. Andrej’s blood, his whole life, beats to the rhythm of Christ’s heart and his love for man.
In the United States it has become fashionable to advertise about Jesus. They are short videos showing ordinary scenes of human life, which Jesus also lived. For example, people are shown suffering… and the video ends: Jesus also wept. Or you see men unjustly accused… Jesus was also accused and did not respond with hatred. Another video is called “the rebel”: Jesus was a rebel of charity and forgiveness. All these videos conclude with the same slogan: “Jesus gets us”. This expression could also be understood: “Jesus reaches us, he catches us wherever we are”. In the priestly ordination Jesus understood Andrej and Jesus reached Andrej. Jesus had already reached Andrej through baptism and confirmation. But now Jesus reaches him in a new way. How?
Jesus reaches Andrej today in his fatherhood. He said to him: you want to give life to men; I will teach you a new way of giving life. You want to open roads, I will teach you the roads that go further. You are going to be a father to my measure. “Be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect”, says the Gospel today. Andrej, here is perfect fatherhood open to you. “No one is as much a father as God,” said Tertullian. And we can add: “no one is able to make us so much fathers as God is.” And just as the Father makes his sun rise on the good and the bad, and sends rain on the just and the unjust, you are called to make the sun of Christ shine on all men, and to rain on them the love of Christ, to strengthen us when we are good and to convert us when we sin.
2. Therefore, whose are you, Andrej? You belong to Christ! And being Christ’s, you can answer another question: Whom are you for? Who do you live for? Who do you give up your life to? Andrej, if you belong to Christ, you can now be “for men”, “for the Church”, to bring them to Christ.
This service to men is a service to love, to communion. Andrej was ordained a priest in the family of the Disciples of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and his priesthood has a surname: dcjm. He is therefore a priest from the mystery of Christ’s human love, which reveals to us the immense love of the Father. And he is a priest from Mary, the Mother of beautiful love, who opens the space for us to contemplate Christ and to speak the language of the body of Christ.
Andrej’s priesthood is therefore at the service of human love within the divine plan. This is what St. Paul tells us today: “You are God’s temple! Your body is God’s temple, and the priest is at the service of this “theology of the body”. The priest’s mission is to put your body and your love in relationship with the body and love of Christ. And thus we understand what it means that Andrej is for you. It is for you, spouses, so that your love may always be born of Christ’s love. Andrej is for you, fathers and mothers, so that the life you give to your children may spring from the sacrifice of Jesus “for the life of the world”. Andrej is “for you” also in your work, so that you may seek the bread that never perishes, that which Christ gives you.
3. Let us now take one last step. Andrej is yours so that you may belong to Christ and, together, walk towards God. If every father communicates life, the priest communicates the life of God, the full life, the eternal life that already begins here. Today’s first reading reminds us: “be holy, as I, your God, am holy”. Do not forget, dear Andrej, that your mission is to bring man to God. May you always be fascinated by the mystery and love of God. Only in God rests the restless heart of man!
In today’s Gospel Jesus says: “If someone forces you to walk with him one mile, walk two”. Many men will come to you as a priest and ask you for help. They will open their hearts to you because they will see in you a minister of God. They will ask you to intercede with the Lord in their doubts, fears and hopes. They will compel you to walk this first mile with them. But don’t stop there. Accompany them a second mile, even if they do not ask you to do so. That is to say, do not intercede for them just to make it happen for them as they wish. Intercede for them to desire more, according to God’s desire for them. This is the second mile, the one that opens the horizon towards God, the one that reminds us of our great destiny.
Finally, on this day, I would like to pray that your priesthood may awaken in many young people the desire to follow Christ. The world needs priests because it needs a future, because it needs hope and a project. And the priest gives us the greatest future, the one that Christ opens up for us. To you young people, who have in your hearts the desire to generate a great future, I say to you, looking at Father Andrej: ask the Lord to call you, offer yourselves to his call!
Drawing inspiration from an ancient prayer, we can ask, “Who are you, priest?” and answer, “You are not of yourself, because you are of Christ; you are not for yourself, because you are for the Church; you are not toward yourself, because you are toward the Father. Who are you, then, priest? Nothing and everything, O priest!”