On Saturday 7 October, in St Saviour’s church in Jerusalem, fr. Juan David Rodriguez Barahona concluded his path of discernment with the solemn profession, to finally belong to the Order of Friars Minor. It was a particular day, in which to the joy for this important occasion there were added the shock, the fear and the sadness for the events of bloodshed that shook the Holy Land from the very early morning.
The celebration was presided over by the Custos of the Holy Land, fr. Francesco Patton, in the presence of various religious and brothers of the Custody. “In a situation of war and danger as is the one in which we suddenly find ourselves today,” the Custos fr. Patton began, “it is precisely the Letter from St Paul to the Philippians invites us to have an attitude of trust which is transformed into prayer, into supplication and thanks.”
“This morning I was leaving the Holy Sepulchre when the alarm sirens started to go off,” recalled fr. Juan David, 33 years old, originally from Bogota (Colombia). “And I thought: this is the place of love, the exact place where God made His Son rise for eternal life out of pure love for us. May my consecration in this Holy Land, which unfortunately has always been upset by hatred, violence and fear, be a sign that witnesses the love of God who tells us to love one another, and of the union with Jesus, of that God of love who is always with us.”
The solemn profession
In pronouncing the words of the profession in the hands of the Custos of the Holy Land, fr. Juan David promised to observe the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience for this whole life and to embrace the Rule of the Order of the Friars Minor.
He then prostrated himself while the community invoked the intercession of the saints. The emotion in the most crucial passages of the celebration was clear on the faces of his family and friends, who had come from Colombia and Canada, while the church was invaded by great commotion when fr. Juan David was able to embrace all the friars present, a metaphor of the welcome into the fraternity.
The words of the Custos
The Custos of the Holy Land, in his homily, wanted to recall the meaning of the three vows: “Through the profession of living the Gospel in obedience, without any possessions of your own and in chastity, the Lord offers you concrete help to succeed in bringing forth fruit. The vow of obedience is to help you increasingly be in harmony with the will of God expressed in his Word. The vow of living “sine proprio”, which means without taking possession of anything, is to make you a person capable of trusting a God who is the Father and takes care of you and is to make you a person capable of sharing what you are and what you have with those who have less. And the vow of chastity is to teach you to love gratuitously and without ulterior motives, even to the extent – if necessary – of giving your life as well on condition that the people who are entrusted to you find meaning and salvation in their lives” (the full homily is here).
Thanks from fr. Juan David
At the end of the Mass, fr. Juan David wanted to thank his family who have always supported him “and who taught me to follow, honour and love Jesus” and all those who were important on the path of formation. “I would like to recall today the words of the Gospel according to Matthew “Because it has been granted to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of the heavens.” It is a Gospel which speaks about peace, hope and love and confident abandonment in God. It is a Gospel that speaks about giving all of ourselves as Jesus gave himself completely to us, only out of love. Today, more than ever, we can understand what forgiving everyone and hoping in He who has the power to create from nothing the things that exist means.”