We All Help the Lord Direct Vocations

This is a speech given at this years Ordinandi Dinner hosted by the Serra Clubs.  There were just over 1,800 of us there this night:

OD 2020 [1]

Eight years ago, I stood up at this podium and delivered my Ordinandi Dinner speech.  It marked me.  “You’re the priest that used to be a bus driver”. Anyone who remembers me that way, remembers me from that dinner [not from being on my bus] – thank goodness for that!

The people of Mississauga are safe from at least one less crazy bus driver now!

My job takes me to many places throughout the archdiocese where I hear this.  People remembering me this way shows me just how important this dinner is in connecting people to our priests.

I’ve been speaking as your Vocation Director for the past 6 years.  Tonight, I want to share some insight and wisdom from these years of experience – my message is for everyone here!

My fellow Vocation Directors.

Please don’t tune out, I am addressing each and every one of you; not the priests and bishop only!  You!  I was appointed to this work by the Cardinal, but in directing vocations your work is as important, and maybe in some ways more important than my work!

My fellow vocation directors, first of all, we must seek for the Lord, quality over quantity.  It would be nice to have a couple hundred seminarians, like years ago: but that’s not our reality.  AND please don’t believe there’s a vocation crisis!  The Church is NOT desperate for more priests.  If we worry, we won’t be looking for the best men, men like these deacons we will hear from tonight.

We need to look for men with servants’ hearts, who love God & connecting with God through prayer & service, who love people, who love life, men who are positive, energetic and who want to do great things & see the good in the Church and the world and make it better.  Every one of us here know men like that.

Second, pray for this.  Cardinal Collins always reminds us to pray when he speaks on vocations: “pray to the Lord of the harvest, that He may send labourers into the harvest”.  The Scriptures are full of vocation stories, every one of them founded in prayer.  Our Lady is remembered for immediately answering the Lord’s call but could only do that in communion with God through prayer.

Pray.

And if you want to pray with others, join the Serrans who’s very important mandate to pray for vocations has brought us all together tonight.  Prayer works!

Third, don’t sit back and wait for someone else to plant the seed in someone else – you do it.  Reinforce it with reasons why you think he would make a good priest or she would make a good religious sister.  Don’t undervalue your place as a Disciple of Christ to call other Disciples.

That’s for each one of us!  I remember nearly 20 years later, all of the people who planted the seed & said “Chris, you ever thought about becoming a priest”.  Who said, “this is why I think you should be a priest.

Sure, he or she will need the support of their pastors and in time, the appointed vocation director – but you are all a very important, I might even say essential part of an increase in good & healthy vocations!  And the more of us that do that, the more chance we have of giving those whom the Lord calls the strength and courage to take that leap.

And remember, my fellow vocation directors: a healthy increase in vocations is up to us all!  Vocations come from the pews you sit in and that we clergy and religious here used to sit in.

They don’t come from someplace else.  We’re blessed to have shared the pews with many of you!  There were hundreds of faithful men and women, dedicated Catholics and even struggling ones who had a very important part to play in my formation.

If we are good priests, it’s because of the people in the pews who shared their faith with us, who prayed for us.  We cherish and value Priesthood, yes because it’s a gift from God but because it’s important to you – the people that we serve.  And finally, my fellow vocation directors: we’ve got work to do!

There are nearly 1,900 of us here tonight, many of you have been to more than the 15 or 16 Ordinandi Dinners that I’ve been to. Friends, I ask you this: this is my challenge for each one of you:

  • Think of those you know who’d make good priests and good religious sisters – spend some time thinking about it, then invite them to think
  • Tell them why they would be good priests or religious
  • Tell your priests and parish staff, so they too are aware of who and what you see

If we all invite even 3 or 4 people through a lifetime – just imagine where the Church we all love and give our life to – will be.

God Declares Us His Beloved in Christ – Let Us Please Him by Responding to Our Baptismal Call!

Jesus Being Baptized

“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”  These are the words that we hear close out today’s Gospel.  This was the proclamation and affirmation given to John the Baptist, letting him know that this was in fact, the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Messiah for whom he was a messenger, for whom John’s entire existence was to proclaim.

Why did the Father declare His pleasure with the Son?

Well, one of the reasons I think He did was: He knew the Son’s purpose, and the role He would play in saving His people.  This would also affirm for John that the One he was preparing people for had come.  By our baptism we take on the Life of Christ and His mission, no less than Christ did by coming into the world and stepping into the Baptismal waters (this is by Jesus’ design and desire and if we believe that, this doesn’t diminish the Son of God, but increases the holy life we aspire to).

While John was baptizing, as we know it was a baptism of repentance, a washing away of sins in a symbolic and ordinary sense, an importance sense but it’s not a baptism like the one we share in Christ.  So what does that mean?

If we live the Life of Christ, we share in all aspects of His life, and in the extraordinary and supernatural sense.

And while we are given this life and we can’t earn or deserve it – God’s sincerest hope is that we will accept that life and live for Christ.  As we celebrate today the Baptism of the Lord, this is a good time for each of us to pause and consider the gift we’ve been given and for those possibly listening who haven’t been baptized, to consider asking for the gift, a gift for each and every one of us.  It’s good for us to reflect upon the gift and what we have done with that gift.

As a Vocation Director, I spend a lot of my time working with those among us who are in the process of responding to that gift through their vocation; discerning a religious vocation.  But whether our vocation is the religious life, priesthood, marriage or to remain singularly dedicated to Christ – our baptism gives us a purpose; a purpose many of us are on a journey to discover.

Since we Catholics are normally baptized as infants, we don’t remember the day we were baptized.  I was baptized as an adult, so I feel blessed in one way to remember that day and I celebrate it each year and as a priest who baptized many, I read over the words of the Baptismal Rite and ponder again and again that moment.

I recommend this for all of us [it’s easy to get the Rite online].  When I celebrate Baptism, I almost always use these words: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”  Speaking to families, I remind all those who bring children to the font that God declares these words to His sons and daughters for the same reason He declared them to His Only Begotten Son – love and hope.  He offers them to us as He loves us with the unbridled and passionate love that saw Him give up His Son to save us and He offers them with hope: that He who delivers and makes good on every promise ever made, desires that we seek to respond in kind.  May God bless you.

Sacrifice, Surrender & Suffering: Here Comes the Lamb of God!

Good Shepherd

Jesus is referred to in the Gospels as the Son of Man, at other times as the Son of God and in today’s Gospel (the Gospel of John) as the Lamb of God as St. John the Baptist declares Him, “here comes the Lamb of God”.  There is a great deal of importance to be drawn and reflected upon in the manner in which Jesus is referred to when each of these deliberate expressions is used.  Jesus is referred to many times as the “Son of Man” and this term is used many more times in the Old Testament; an important reference to Jesus’ fully human nature [we celebrate that our Lord came to us as one of us].

Jesus is also referred to as the Son of God which affirms His fully divine nature; that He is in fact God and we celebrate God with us, God among us.

Today we hear John the Baptist refer to Jesus in a humble way, as the “Lamb of God” bringing together many Judeo-Christian concepts, humanity, divinity and most importantly acknowledging ahead of the time soon to come of His Ultimate Sacrifice, as the Lamb sacrificed for all of humanity to bring us back to God.

Before we let go of today’s Gospel as simply a theological lesson, it’s important that we reflect on the significance of the manner in which we refer to Jesus as we live our lives as followers, Disciples of Christ.  When we acknowledge Jesus as the “Son of Man”, we are reminded that our God is not a distant God speaking to us without truly knowing the human experience.  He is a human being living a fully human life and so as His followers we are living His life in addition to our own.  This means more than we are trying to be like Jesus; it also means our life is meaningful and purpose-driven (whether we’ve found that or realized that), just as His was!

When we acknowledge Jesus as “Son of God”, we are reminded that our God did indeed come into our midst and so all that we are and all that we are trying to be as Christians is beyond natural (it’s supernatural) and beyond ordinary (extraordinary) and so what it means to live a grace-filled life is to spend our lives seeking to live a Divine Life.  We may not be God, but our life will be an extension of God when we seek to be holy.

When we acknowledge Jesus as the “Lamb of God”, we are reminded that our God is a God of Sacrifice and surrender.  Jesus gave His entire life for us and made a sacrifice beyond comprehension.  As His followers, sacrifice, surrender and sometimes suffering are important parts of who we are as Christians.  Too often Christians are “written off” as fools for believing that sacrifice and suffering are good and important parts of life.  We don’t just go looking for death and martyrdom – to do that WOULD be foolish.  When it becomes part of our story and brings others closer to Jesus and brings strength to others it is of the greatest value to us and we consider it an act of love for others.  We have so many examples of that in the world already, it shouldn’t be too hard to see sacrifice, surrender and suffering as a total gift of ourselves for God and for others – an essential part of our vocation!

Friendship in the Lord

Basil & Gregory

Friends are essential to the life of every Christian.  Friends are an important part of who we are and who we are becoming.  We grow as people with good and healthy friendships; being around people who love us, support us, encourage us and who can also help us to see where we struggle.  People who are honest with us and provide us with honest feedback based on a context of knowing who we are. 

There have been a few men I have met in these past six years, convinced that one of the reasons God might be calling them to the priesthood was because they had no real desire for friendship.  As a Vocation Director, it’s important for me not to dismiss men who share this, but to help understand what makes them see a desire to be alone and without others “as a gift”.  Of course there could be many reasons; they were hurt by people in their lives who should have loved them, family or friends.  Usually it isn’t too hard to understand once we listen to the story of someone’s life.

It is erroneous and flawed thinking of course.  To not want to be with people and to desire good and meaningful friendships and relationships with others, is not only not a gift, but it is a necessity for the priest.  Men who are to be priests must desire good, meaningful and healthy friendships with both men and women to be balanced men and in the future balanced priests.  I would, however, emphasize that friendships need to be good, meaningful, healthy and balanced.  Often what leads a person to not want friendship is a deficiency in what they have had as friends.

We celebrate today as Catholics, the lives of St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen who both became bishops and are remembered as “Doctors of the Church”, in other words offered us many things very significant in the living out of our Catholic Christian faith.  These were two very intellectual men who encouraged and supported one another in deep and meaningful friendship.  They were competitive in their intellectual pursuits, but supporting, encouraging and learning from one another still.  They sought the path of holiness together and embodied the true meaning of Christian love for the people in their lives but for each other as brothers in the Lord.  These two men brought many people with themselves to Heaven.  Their friendship undoubtedly made both of them wake every day wanting to be better Christian men and they both helped one another become that.

This is what we should all want; I know I do.  I feel blessed by the friends that God has graced my life with.  The older I get, having lived long enough to have known good friendship and not-so-good friendship; I am thankful for the people in my life who help me become a better version of myself day by day.  I am thankful for the time I can spend with these people and today as I think of these two great saints, I continue to hope and pray for my dear friends as I know that they pray for me too.

The Greatness of Women

Mary Mother of God

There are many things a Vocation Director looks for in a candidate for priesthood, but few things more important than what a man thinks and how he acts towards women.  For so many reasons, its important for me to understand how men who are considering the priesthood think of women.

Many years ago, I worked with a religious sister who shared with me some of her experiences over a lifetime, nearly 50 years as a religious sister including the many times she had been demeaned, condescended to, disrespected, marginalized or made to feel less important in dignity by priests and sadly even bishops.  She WAS NOT (and is not) an angry woman and I was glad she shared that with me.  It raised my own awareness, as a seminarian then, that we men have work to do.

It can be a great challenge for a great many people to be a part of (our) Church that seems to be dominated by men, as we have an all-male clergy.  I know that there are many people who struggle with this.  I know that as a priest, the single-most asked question in the classroom by students is “why can’t girls (women) be priests?”  My answers are often long and theological with reference to Scripture and Tradition, and they are often, I’m sure, unsatisfying to the inquirer.  I also consider my friend’s experience and I add to it that we priests need to be aware that we have often distorted and at times have disrespected the office we hold as Priests and Bishops.  What I offer people is that Priests and Bishops were never supposed to treat women as anything less than equal and the power and authority given by ordination is meant to bring salvation and a deeper encounter with our Lord and Saviour, rather than to be lorded over people or used to control or exert power.  I admit we’ve come a long way in understanding that, but we have a long way to go.  As Pope Francis says “there’s no Church without women” and while women can’t be priests, “[women] cannot be limited in the role and importance; the part they play” in bringing Jesus Christ and the Glory of God through the Church to the world.

And who better to cite as the most powerful example of this than Mary Most Holy?  To look and reflect upon the life of Mary, Mother of God, is to realize that God has made women to be great!  She was given a vocation, a role, a part to play for all eternity that no one else could do – and she was given this role as a woman of faith.  No one in all of human history was closer to God than she was.  No one has the prayer power (the ability to intercede in prayer) for us that she does.  Mary wasn’t an Apostle, nor was she a priest or a bishop.  But if there was an Apostle or disciple who might have considered treating Our Lady with less than the fullest dignity she deserved, we could only imagine what Our Lord Himself would have had to say about that!

As a Vocation Director, it is of prime importance to look for men who understand this or are capable of seeing things in this way.  Our future priests must have a deep respect for women already lived out and obvious in their lives.  They must value equally and without exception women.  A priest who wants to be “with the boys” and not spend his life with good female friends as well is problematic and hopefully we are all becoming more discerning and realistic in helping anyone who thinks this way with the issues that have led them to this way of thinking.

The role for women in the Church, in the world, as Christians witnessing to us IS GREAT and we celebrate that today as we celebrate the life of one of the greatest woman, Mary the Mother of God.

Jesus Fills Us in Our Need

jesus12

Throughout all of human history we have struggled to meet God.  We may meet people in our lives who think that God, religion, Christianity, perhaps faith in general is for the weak-minded and simple among us.  There are many valid reasons that people feel that way.  Upon first glance, there are many “religious” people who have rigid beliefs of “it’s us versus them”.  At second and third glance; many terrible and destructive things have happened with “religious people” placing the Stamp of God upon hateful and destructive actions.  If I seem sympathetic – I’m not; if I seem understanding – I am!  I was one of “those people” who for so many years had a dismissive, hateful, negative attitude towards religious people for what I believed religion was all about.  And given where I live, it was directly towards the only religion I had much of an awareness of at the time – Christianity.  I could never imagine myself a Christian from all the “poor examples” I had met in my life.

But I will be the first to admit that I had only a vague understanding of what it meant to be a Christian then.  I did not want or feel I needed to understand anything more than I did to dismiss religious people altogether.  My ignorance was bliss for me then too, so I understand why it seems that this attitude and mentality doesn’t seem to move much.  I was so arrogant and proud that I could not be moved on the subject.  Then I met some real Christians; men and women who meekly and humbly tried their best and when I got to know them, I came to see they were ordinary folk trying to be the best people they could be.  I realized my preconceived ideas needed to be challenged and my understanding needed to be deepened.  While dedicated Christian Disciples showed me what a Christian really was and what we are meant to be, I am also aware that God gave me the grace of an open heart to see it in the first place.

It was through Jesus and His Disciples (these good Christians I came to know), that I really came to meet God through His Son, Jesus.  I didn’t realize I was hungry for the food that Jesus offered, but when I came to realize – Jesus gave me what I needed.  Jesus filled me in my need.

Throughout human history, so many of us haven’t been aware of the hunger and need we have and our hearts remained closed to what Jesus has to offer.  I speak about this from experience!  I was for a very long time one of those people.  Jesus reached me…He gave Himself for me…He brought me in love…to Him.  

I pray daily now, for those who were like me; who may see me and criticize me for being one of these weak-minded hypocrites.  I have my moments still where I am these things; the difference now is that each criticism that is made of me for this is an occasion I am reminded I need to draw closer once again to the Lord who loves me!

Friends, let us consider how Jesus fills us in our own need.  Let us consider how we come to the Lord for loving, healing, growth, guidance.  Let us consider what we are given when we do.

Lord, I’m Not Worthy to Have You Come to Me…

Healing Centurion's Servant

Honesty and humility are two of the most important ingredients in our growing in our faith.  In today’s Gospel, the centurion (who would not have been a likely follower of Jesus) asks for the Lord’s help.  When Jesus suggests He will come and heal his servant; the centurion responds with the words we remember in perpetuity: “Lord, I am not worthy to have You come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed!”  A form of this statement has become our humble (and hopefully) honest confession before receiving Holy Communion – a recognition that we too are not worthy to have the Lord come to us as He does at Mass and as we receive Him whole and entire, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist.

We need to try to be honest with ourselves; admit where and when and how we go wrong, but also where and when and how we are weak.  Honesty also means that we recognize that despite our sins and weaknesses, we are deeply loved by God and we cannot afford to get mired in any way in sin.  I have had many conversations with people who misunderstand Catholic Christians as “too focused on sin” and that may be because there are some of us who come across that way – all we talk about is what is wrong with the world and people.  That cannot be an honest assessment of the world we live in, because there are many people (I mean them every day) who are trying hard and trying their very best.  This is NOT Sodom & Gomorrah, where we were hard-pressed to find even a few good people; good people are everywhere!  If we have a hard time seeing that, we need to be honest about that.

We need to be humble as well; our faith, being Catholic Christians, is not about being part of an exclusive club.  It’s about recognizing a loving God who has given us all that we need to follow Him and then we need to spend our lives “humbly walking with the Lord”.  We humble ourselves when we confess our sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation; we humble ourselves when we do our very best and don’t expect anything for it in return; we humble ourselves when we consider God and others always and everywhere before ourselves AND we humble ourselves when we profess the words, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof, but only say the words and I shall be healed.”

Happy(Catholic Christian) New Year

new years

As Christians, we celebrate the New Year twice!  Of course, there’s the new year that we celebrate on January 1st, but TODAY, the First Sunday of Advent marks a new year for us as well.  If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably given up on making New Year’s Resolutions because so often we stop making them to avoid breaking them!  I also stopped making them on that one day of the year, because I found it was important to my life as a Christian to make resolutions all the time throughout my life.  IT IS important to capitalize  on occasions and events, especially those that beget reflection and contemplating life.  Maybe for some of us, like me – January 1st has lost that appeal.  For us Catholic Christians (and many other Christians who celebrate Advent too) we ought to take this very first day of the New Year in the liturgical year as an opportunity to make some Christian resolutions.  

Christian resolutions might include to find ways to be more committed to our Christian lives; a resolution to be a better Christian this year than we already are.  Maybe to try a new form of prayer that we live in faith and hope will deepen our relationship with Jesus.  Maybe to be cognizant of our time and finding a way to give ever so slightly more time (or a lot more time if we can) to helping others or being with loved ones and those in need.  Giving money and material things are very important of course, but in the world we all live in with lives seeming busier and busier – time is of the essence.  As a family, we might consider a way we could pray together in an engaging and meaningful way.  As a family, we might begin the “New Advent Year” by coming up with a way to put together a Christmas hamper to give to another family in need.  Our Advent Resolution might also be to really take time to consider how we might become more free to live and give ourselves as Christians in a world that like it or not, needs the strong and solid Christian witness now more than ever.

As you can see, I am only reaching the tip of the iceberg here.

I might also suggest that there is a big difference between worldly resolutions and Christian ones.  It’s been my own experience that when we fail, the world isn’t always friendly to these failures.  How many of us have made the New Year’s resolution to “get fit” and then find things get in the way of that and yet we’ve got this gym membership we’re paying dearly for all year?  Or we sign up to play a sport and then we find it impossible to make it?  The difference is that our Lord is a Lord of encouragement and love.  We celebrate the Son of God coming into the world when we, as a People of God got things so completely wrong, and He brought us back again.  And He keeps bringing us back.  Advent is a time that most of our parishes have Reconciliation Services (I spend a lot of time in Advent & Lent going to many of those parishes), with many priests hearing many confessions.  I often offer to people I meet in the confessional this thought or perspective: Jesus calls us to “be perfect as My Heavenly Father is perfect (Matt 5:48)” but then in His deep love for us, gives us the “gift” of confession when we’ve fallen short.  Perfection is still and always our goal and the desired end for a Christian, but we have an understanding God who loves us despite our failings, falls, shortcomings, weakness – He loves us no matter what and encourages us to just pick ourselves up and keep trying.

Broken “resolutions” are just a sign we need to keep working at it; joyful and determined to be the best Christians we can be.  As we begin this season of Advent, let’s all make the commitment to make more of an effort to be the people our Lord and God created us to be; if each of us do that one more little thing: the world will be transformed by it.

A short reflection based on Fr. Chris’ homily given at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish on the First Sunday of Advent.

If You Were on Trial for Being Christian: Would You Be Convicted?

“If you were charged today with being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”

Christian-Persecution-1

I remember being struck by this question; the first time I heard it phrased this way was reading a brief biography of former US President Jimmy Carter and a question which guided the course of his life and the importance of his Christian faith in his life.  It’s a good and important question for us all to consider.  Would there be the evidence to convict us, if we were charged with being Christian? Sadly, there are many days that I think that there would not be the evidence to convict me of being Christian.  So, if you can answer this question as I do sometimes, “there’s not enough evidence…” then what are we doing about it?  The great thing about being Christian is that we are a reconciled people and we know by faith the Lord gives us each day as another chance to get it right – if we try!

We don’t wait for another time or another day to try.  When I was beginning to seriously discern my own vocation to the priesthood, I was really dragging my heels on making a decision.  I thought about continuing to just live my life with comfort and complacency, retiring at 52 from my career at Mississauga Transit and maybe then, the priesthood.  It was my mother, from her hospital bed who spoke to me as Jesus does in today’s Gospel.  “Yeah, you can wait, but should you?  Don’t live your life with regret for not having done what you’re meant to do.”  She was less than a week away from her own death at 52.  That was perhaps one of the greatest wake-up calls I’d ever be given, and something I think of to this very day.

I begin my own day in prayer, asking God to give me the courage, strength and insight to see where and how I can give witness to being a Christian today, each and every day and then I try.  While I convict myself of the times I’m not much of a Christian – every day, every moment of the day is a time to begin again.!

And there must be a sense of urgency and desire to want to begin again.  There must!  Failure to have been a Christian cannot be the cause for us not to try!  We cannot shrink away from trying our best always.  Today’s Gospel offers us this to reflect upon.  What are we doing with the gifts we’ve been given?  Are we storing them up and waiting for some future time?  Are we waiting for a “tomorrow” that may never come?  Are we waiting for things to get better, brighter, and more conducive to what we want of the world?  And if so, what would happen if today were our last day in this world?  Would we have done what we’ve been called to do…or would we regret that we hadn’t?

Christians Need to Be Fighters!

Sunday Reflection on the 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time.

Ali_Muhammad_14

Christians need to be fighters.  A fighter is someone who despite hardships, difficulties and sometimes obstacles; someone who may suffer along the way – does not give up and stays the course – fights the fight.  Fighting is not always a bad word!  A bully is not a fighter, described in this way.  A risk-taker is not a fighter described in this way.  Christians need to be fighters and this is a value and character trait which is becoming more obsolete and unfortunately less a descriptive of the Christian – but as Christians, we need to ask for the grace; the courage and strength to restore the “fight” in us.  If we think of the early Christians, they were fighters though they may have been prisoners and may have ended up dying horrible and brutal deaths at the hand of oppressors and tyrants.  A characteristic which contributed to their greatness as Disciples was perseverance; perseverance is a characteristic important and admired in Christian Disciples.  And why persevere?  As Christians, we are people of hope: that no matter what seems to be taking place around us, God is with us, will deliver us and has the Final Word!

Perseverance is also a common thread and part of the account of each one of our readings, this 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time.  Moses and the people persevere; Moses interceding, the people depending on God.  St. Paul calls upon Timothy to persevere in his ministry and Jesus reiterates the importance of perseverance in the parable of the unjust judge; who grants what is asked because he is moved by the persistence of the one who asks.

We too, as the Christian Disciples of today are called to persevere.  We are called to know our faith; to take an  proactive role in learning and growing in what it means to be a Catholic Christian and to live by these principles.  We are called to understand why living by these principles are important, why they matter and this often grows stronger in things we struggle with and how we suffer, in what we endure and how we handle difficulties.  We even and often can learn a great deal from our personal failures and sometimes our colossal failures at being good Disciples.  From our sins, from our weaknesses, from where we fall short – if we begin to see why these things happen, we do what Christians do: pick ourselves up and continue to soldier on.  We fight.  We fight the good fight, as St. Paul says.  And let us consider St. Paul’s words, perhaps words remembered as prayer from 1 Timothy chapter 6: “But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep the commandment without spot or blame until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will bring about at the right time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords. It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honour and eternal dominion. Amen.”