On the last Sunday of November I ordained deacon in Pretoria Andre Nzuzi Mabiala IMC, a Consolata Missionary from the Republic Democratic of Congo. He had finished his studies in South Africa. It was a kind of unique event because there were two bishops and not just one! Bishop Inacio Saure IMC, a Consolata Missionary like me and bishop of Tete (Mozambique) happened to be there too. We had finished our IMBISA meeting in Lesotho and we were both on our way back to Swaziland (he would then continue to Mozambique).
At every ordination I always ask the one to be ordained to choose the readings for the day. I sometimes remember to ask him also "why" he chose those particular readings. Normally I forget to do that and I share what I see in them for the journey ahead.
All the readings had a particular reference to the Word. The Gospel, taken from Matthew 9:35-38, spoke of Jesus making "a tour through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom".
I asked him to make sure he identifies with Jesus, with the way He lived, with the way he felt about things and people.
I pointed out three images from that particular passage:
- Jesus goes... he does not wait for others to go to him
- Jesus preaches Good news
- Jesus sees and feels sorry for the people because they were harassed and dejected like sheep without a shepherd
On the second point I happened to ask him to make sure he preaches and witness to a Word that is "Good news", that heals, that is able to strengthen the faith, hope and love of the people.
I also pointed out that I have come across priests who seem unable to do so... who seem to preach out of "anger" and that sometimes people seem to be offered "fast food" and not good one. I shared the story of a friend of mine who one day decided to stand up during the homily and leave Mass because he could not take it anymore...
Interesting enough, at the end of Mass someone approached me and said: "Bishop, thank you for acknowledging we have a crisis with the homilies". This person does not belong to that parish but was just visiting on that day. I never asked where she was coming from. I was also not sure I was happy to be confirmed on what I had said... I just replied: "well, it is time we acknowledge our weaknesses and do something about it".