Tuesday 29 June, the solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul, is a special day for the Custody of the Holy Land: every year, on this very day, some young Franciscan friars who have completed their path of formation are ordained presbyters. Coming from Africa, America, and Asia, five new priests were ordained in Jerusalem by the imposition of the hands of H. B. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, who presided the Eucharistic celebration.
In his homily, the Patriarch spoke of the figures of Peter and Paul presented by the readings of the day. Peter, "hot-headed, dynamic and impulsive” who after having placed his trust fully in Jesus, "is concerned only with announcing that Christ is the kyrios, and nothing else. He is not interested in anything else that speaks of the salvation of the soul, oblivious of his life. This is why he ends up in prison but this does not upset him very much. Trusting in God means leaving things be, worrying about the essential that is salvation.”
"At this point in the path of his life,” His Beatitude commented "Peter has learned to trust, to let things be and to wait. He has learned that his life is in the hands of someone else, to whom he belongs, and he is not anxious, he is not afraid. He can live or he can die, it is not that important to him. What is important is that his living and his dying say the life and the death of his Lord, Jesus, who saved him from death."
Then Paul, who is face to face with death, and only one thing is left to him: faith." This is the great treasure of Paul, compared with which everything else is rubbish,” the Patriarch underlined. “All the rest, all his battles, his efforts, his travels, his preaching… Everything disappears, and only one thing is left: that Paul believes. And he believes in the first place in Jesus, who remains active and alive."
"Obedience,” Pizzaballa concluded, “is the criterion of comprehension of the nature of your ministry. The freedom and gratuitousness of your ministry will appear concretely In obedience to the Church, in its different forms. Through obedience, it will be clearly understood that your life is a service and a gift and not a possession.
May your service be a small reflection of the salvation Paul and Peter bore witness to and that we today, through them, are celebrating."
At the end of the homily, and after the prayer of the litanies, the Patriarch laid his hands on the new priests. The imposition culminated with putting on the priestly vestments and the unction of the palms of the hands. As the liturgy requires, the last moment was the handing over of the paten and of the chalice with the bread and wine, accompanied by the prayer"account for what you will do, imitate what you will celebrate, make your life comply with the mystery of the cross of Christ Our Lord."
At the end, the Custody’s Vicar, Fr. Dobromir Jasztal, who concelebrated, thanked the Patriarch in the name of the Custos of the Holy Land Fr. Francesco Patton and the fraternity of the Custody. "I thank His Beatitude Pierbattista Pizzaballabecause with the ministry of the imposition of the hands and the consecratory prayer he wanted to establish these presbyters for the Universal Church, but also for the local churches and the provinces of the Holy Land, of Congo, of Peru and Central America. The wish is that they are increasingly strong, faithful, and effective instruments of the grace they have received."
Fr. Jean and Fr. George, two of the new priests, then took the floor for the final thanks. "We thank God for his protection, for his love which he has shown to us, accompanying us on vocational, our formative and academic path," they said, first in Italian and then in Arabic. “We are very grateful for his love and his kindness.”