Cardinal Blase J. Cupich

The Father's gift to Jesus

May 29, 2024

The following was adapted from Cardinal Cupich’s homily delivered during the May 18 Mass of Ordination to the Priesthood at Holy Name Cathedral.

The readings from the Word of God conspire in a way that compels us to understand our lives as a gift that the Father has given to Jesus. It is in the intimate moment of his conversation with the Father, as he looks up to heaven, that we hear him pray: “I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me.”

To be sure, you who are to be ordained call to mind the many people, family, friends, professors, formators and classmates, who have held you in their hearts and in their prayers over these years of preparation. Today, the Word of God urges you to see that all these good people have been part of the Father’s handiwork in preparing you to be his gift to Jesus. The Father has placed you in their hands to ready you to be the gift he is giving to Jesus.

Notice how Jesus receives you as the Father’s gift. He in return gives you the Word. He is the Word. He gives you himself. He is giving you a share in his life, the life he has with the Father, a life of mutual giving and receiving. This is so different from a solitary life without connection or communion. This is so different from a life of possessing or of owning, a self-referential life that seeks praise, power and possessions.

He has introduced you to this kind of living, of making your life a gift for others for the salvation of the world. Whatever it is in your ministry that you receive, you are to give as gift, not holding on to status or goods, praise or possessions, or power, for these can never define your life. For it is only living a life marked by receiving and then giving that you will participate in the saving work of Jesus. Twice in his first letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul says, “For I handed on to you what I myself received,” first with reference to the Eucharist and then later concerning faith in the Resurrection. Today, you receive a gift and you make a promise to give that gift to others. Today, I invite you to make a commitment to be true to how God sees your life as his gift to Jesus, who consecrates you to be a gift for others.

That is the truth you are consecrated in today. Whatever you have to give, always remember it comes from what you have received. You did not arrive at this day on your own. God’s grace walked you to this moment. All you have been given is what you are to give away.

This is why Jesus says you do not belong to the world. He does not mean you should retreat from the world, but rather you do not belong to the world because you belong to him, because the Father has made you a gift to him.

And the truth of living a life drawn from the mutual self-giving of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is not just some pious thought. No, far from that, this way of living will be the anchor to your ministry, particularly as you face at times daunting challenges in a world marked by rapid change. St. Paul says it so well: “Since we have this ministry through the mercy shown us, we are not discouraged.” You have this ministry through the mercy shown to you.

Each day, you are given a vivid reminder of this, for you will stand before the people you serve and at the altar make your own the words of Jesus on the night before he died: “This is my body given up for you, my blood poured out for you.”

As you consecrate bread and wine with these words, always remember that on the day of your ordination, Jesus has consecrated you in the truth that your life is a gift you have received to be given freely and generously for others.