On Wednesday 10 June we celebrated the Silver Jubilee of Fr Mafanisa Mthembu OSM. He is a member of the Servants of Mary and the first one of them, born in the Vicariate of Ingwavuma, to celebrate his first 25 years as a priest.
There had been a parish celebration at Riverview (Mtubatuba) on Corpus Christi. This one was for family, friends and the priests and religious of the Vicariate of Ingwavuma. There were people from different parts of the country and form the Diocese of Manzini (Swaziland). In fact, when someone asked how many people had come from Swaziland, someone gave the number and added: "plus our bishop". For Ingwavuma I am there bishop and for Manzini too!
This is something of what I shared during the homily:
"We all experience God's call to any service as challenging and certainly superior to human capabilities. No matter the call, no matter the age.
In the Bible, every vocation from God is always accompanied by the fear of the one called, and a promise of the Lord assures: "Do not fear, I am with you."
Today's Gospel is another example. Though the “fear” towards the mission entrusted to the apostles is not manifested, Jesus' “I am with you always” certainly is.
A number of those I ordained deacons and priests chose Jer 1: 1 - 4 for their ordination. I believe that when someone celebrating his Silver Jubilee chooses this passage, does it in a different way. It is not so much regarding the journey ahead but the journey already done. Looking back in time, looking back at the beginning of that journey of faith, the first call, the seminary, the ordinations, the appointments… one says: “God has been faithful. He has always been there for me”.
I remember in my own life, I think it was 1994 when I celebrated my 8th anniversary, for some reason it struck me that eight years have passed and I had already gone through so much that the one who had to be congratulated was not me … but God! It was, as we say, by His grace that I was a priest.
A Silver Jubilee is a precious “excuse / opportunity” to look back in time and remember how God has been particularly present, particularly faithful to His promise. It might be remembering those moments when we thought we would not make it or, most probably, those “people” sent to us to walk with us and help us in our journey who helped us arrive to this day.
We are weak, we get confused, lost. Like our offertory processions sometimes we go one step ahead and three back – but God remains faithful and that is what we are celebrating today."