A message of hope
The presence of the Catholic Bishops of the Caribbean, many members of the clergy and several lay people at home and abroad, rallying around our own His Eminence Cardinal Kelvin Edward Felix, on April 17, 2016, on the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood, will remain a memorable event in the religious history of Dominica. It is a powerful manifestation of faith of Catholics of the Caribbean. Not only is it a tremendous landmark in the life and ministry of Cardinal Felix, but it is also a grand proclamation of the Kingdom of God.
One of the psalms of the Old Testament presents Israel as "the throne of God's glory". God reigns on high in all his power and majesty. Yet, he delights in sharing his power and glory with his people on earth. The more we endeavour to live life in all its fullness, the more the glory of God shines out in us. Indeed, God desires to manifest his glory in human beings. This is what St. Irenaeus of Lyons, many centuries ago, expressed when he stated, "The glory of God is man alive."
In this celebration of the Diamond Jubilee of priesthood, what is most prominent is the Kingdom of God. Every Christian celebration has this focus. God is alive and at work. We are called to recognize his presence and his activity. We must not look for the Kingdom here or there, says Jesus. Rather, he says, the Kingdom of God is within us; it is among us.
Yes, the Kingdom of God is present, and it is right that we should delight in its presence. We should raise our hearts in joyful praise. We ought to proclaim joyfully: "This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!"
So we give in to an outburst of joy. And in so doing, we proclaim, as Gilbert Chesterton puts it, "Joy is the Christian's greatest secret." This is so for, even in the darkest hour, we can still say, "Yes, it is good to be alive!" God is with us and there is never any reason to despair. The world remains the same. It goes its own merry way. It is we Christians who have to change our vision of human life and recognize the goodness and mercy of God at work in our midst.
The follower of Christ, whether he is a leader or a simple disciple, should not envisage the world in terms of good people and bad people, friend or foe, but rather in terms of what work is to be done to lead people to the Kingdom of God. Jesus Christ came into this world not to condemn but to save, not to distinguish between who is good and who is bad. He came into this world so that all men and women might see themselves as falling within the range of God's love and mercy. Christ came, as he said, to save what was lost. This is the true mission of any disciple of the Kingdom.
Jesus opened doors for people. He urged them to a renewal of life. He revealed possibilities of growth for people. He did not write off those who went astray. Rather, he went in search of the lost sheep. He always looked for the more-to-come in people. He saw more good in them than others could see. He delivered a message of hope. This message he extended to all and not merely to a select few.
We thank and praise God for giving us Cardinal Kelvin Felix as the cause of our joy and for the message of hope which he conveys to us. We thank God for the inspiration given to us by his life and ministry. We pray and hope that our young men and young women may not gaze at him from a distance, or as one who belongs to a museum, but rather see him as a man immersed in the world, who has endeavoured to make sense of the mysteries of life, and has embraced the vocation to minister to God's people. If this is achieved, this celebration among us will not have been in vain.
The Church is challenged to manifest by word and life her prophetic role in society. A large gathering of clergy and laity, as we have, should serve to indicate to people the potential power of the Word of God among us. The Church has a powerful message for the world. It demands great self-sacrifice. It is a message which Jesus Christ proclaimed and still proclaims. It involves the transformation of society. It is a call for love, justice, unity and peace.