Fr Martin Eckersley was ordained a priest of our diocese by Archbishop Cushley on Saturday (10 July) at St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh.
In his homily, Archbishop Cushley told him "be conscious of what you preach: let it always be about Christ, never about yourself or the cares of this world. The cares of this world they will hear from everyone else: from you, people wish to know about Christ."
Homily of Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews & Edinburgh
Priestly Ordination of Martin Eckersley, St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh, 10 July 2021
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
A renewed word of welcome to the mother church of the diocese, on the happy occasion of the Ordination to the priesthood of your relative and friend, Martin Eckersley.
A word also of thanks to Mgr Burke and all his staff for welcoming us and preparing the cathedral to make this a safe and fitting celebration of one of the most solemn events of this year.
An ordination is always a joyful moment in the life of the Church, and it is also something very personal.
Today is the culmination of many years of preparation by Martin and those around him, of thought and prayer, of the testing, or proving, of a call to something unique.
To reach the priesthood demands a readiness to let oneself be led over time, and a willingness to come to know oneself and one’s limits, to come to understand one’s true relation to God and others, and to build in oneself the acceptance to serve others with all one’s heart. So, this is surely a joyful moment, for you, Martin, but for all of us too; unrepeatable, unique, sacred.
The priesthood is something that is both sacred and precious to us because it comes to us from Christ Himself, and because it is one of the chief means whereby we have an assured access to the life of grace through the pledge of our Lord Himself.
Christ chose to share His sacred mission with the Twelve, gathered with Him in the Upper Room on the very night before He died. His priesthood is intimately related to His person, and to His presence among us in the Eucharist and on Calvary, and in our remembering His death until He returns in glory.
The priesthood takes us directly to the central events of our salvation, and to our Lord’s own sacrifice of Himself, His kenosis, His willing offering of himself to the Father, for the eternal good of us a
Christ the High Priest is the supreme example to us of humility, of self-sacrifice, of willing obedience to the Father.
And so, this ministerial priesthood of ours is something not to be assumed lightly, but soberly and after much testing, reflection, and prayer. This is the priesthood to which we endeavour to conform ourselves, and to which Martin has aspired in these last years.
With that in mind, today’s Liturgy of the Word has been chosen.
The first reading tells us of how God knows us to our depths, he treasures us and chooses us from the very start of our existence, even from the womb. St Augustine tells us that we are known by God better than we know ourselves.
Upon our own realisation of this, our reaction is often that of the prophet in the reading: “But, Lord, you can’t rely on me, I am just a child”.
And yet the Lord’s grace is at hand, and He says to us, and to you today, Martin, “Do not say, ‘I am a child’. Go now to those to whom I send you… [and] do not be afraid of them, for I am with you”.
Just as a child trusts his father or mother, trust in God’s grace, Martin, as you prepare to go and say the words that the Lord puts in your mouth, for the Lord will be there to protect you.
In the second reading, Paul, an Apostle filled not only with wisdom but also with the experience of many trials, conveys several important lessons to you in just a few lines. Today you are to be entrusted with this sacred ministry, it is not yours by right; it is by an act of mercy that you will share in it; and you are not to preach yourself, but Christ Jesus as Lord.
You, like us, are only an earthen vessel, fallible, weak, and fragile but for the great gift that you will hold from now on. From today onwards, for the good of those you serve, be conscious of what you preach: let it always be about Christ, never about yourself or the cares of this world. The cares of this world they will hear from everyone else: from you, people wish to know about Christ.
People have a thirst to know more about Him: so tell them about Him, and bring them to a knowledge and love of Him, by always preparing well what you have to say, and by the example of your life that you set.
And finally, in today’s Gospel text, Jesus teaches His disciples not to lord it over each other, but to be servants and slaves of each other. Christ means this word for all His followers, but surely, He means it in particular for those called to the priesthood, and thus for you, Martin. Too often, the clergy have been mistaken – and have mistaken themselves – for leaders in the worldly sense.
“But, Jesus says, “this is not to happen among you.” Martin, take the Lord’s words to heart: be a joyful servant of all in the sense He wishes you to be. Imitate the Lord himself, “who came, not to be served but to serve and to give his life willingly as a ransom for many”. He did so in the garden and on the cross: imitate that selfless love by your own selfless love and your own joyful service of Him.
In that way you will bring many souls to God, and will always be a true priest of the new and eternal Covenant.
God bless you with a fruitful ministry among us! Amen.
If you're interested in the priesthood or religious life, have a chat with one of our vocation directors: Fr Andrew Garden 0131 663 4286 firstname.lastname@example.org | Sr Mirjam Hugens 0131 623 8902 email@example.com