Our deacon, whose picture is shown here as a deacon, was ordained on Saturday, May 16, 2009. He is now Father Carlos Wilson Bello. Here is my homily for his First Mass on Sunday:
A little boy growing up in the streets of Bogotá, Colombia winds up here today celebrating his First Mass with us, his family, friends, and parishioners who have accompanied him along the way, some of us for just this last year. I have just told his parents that his vocation did not come out of thin air, but came from a family that was prepared by God, just as the Blessed Virgin was prepared by God to play her important role in our salvation.
Yes, Carlos has also been called by God, indeed ordained, to play a very important role in the salvation of souls, especially as a Neo- Catechumenal priest.
We live in a time when most people do not think much about their eternal salvation. Much more emphasis is placed on the pursuit of happiness. Happiness is the new word for salvation, even though it’s missing the eternal part of happiness. So, I was greatly intrigued when I came across an article in the June issue of the Atlantic monthly magazine, called, What Makes Us Happy?
Way back in 1937 Harvard university began a study to investigate what makes people happy. They chose 268 of the most normal, healthy, well-adjusted sophomores, all of whom were male, and followed their lives for 70 years.
They came from well-to-do families; they received a superb education. They were well positioned to be very successful in life.
This was the generation that witnessed the Great Depression, served in World War II and came back to home and transformed the way business was done so as to produce history’s greatest expansion in wealth for the greatest number of people.
What did the research find out? Not everyone wound up happy. Some suffered from depression; others from alcoholism; and many went through divorces. But the ones who experienced the most happiness, over the long haul, were men who placed their highest priority on relationships.
Is not “relationships” the theme of our Scriptures today? Did we not just hear in the readings the word “love” repeated 18 times!
So, my friends, relationships are the key to our salvation as well as our worldly happiness! If we do not become persons of love, what have we become? If we do not grasp that God has first loved us (and set us in motion to be people of love), then happiness will be elusive for us.
Father Carlos, in God’s great love for you He chose you, you didn’t choose Him. He chose you to minister to Him by serving the people God brings into your path over the years ahead, particularly by helping people in their relationships. You will reconcile them with God, and with others, by absolving them and helping them heal from broken relationships. Above all, God chose you to love the people God gives you. Your ministry is to be a servant of love: to initiate people into the love of God, to speak of the enduring love of God, and to witness to that love by the very quality of your priestly compassion.
There are many, many people today who do not know God. And the reason is this: they do not yet know love, true love. For to know love, is to know God. May the Lord guide you, Carlos, and inspire you to help souls come to know the indescribable love of God. May your many celebrations of the Eucharist, the great Banquet of Love, be for you and for all who gather at those many, many Masses in the years ahead, a true encounter with the self-emptying, crucified and risen love of our Redeemer. And may everyone who comes to know you experience in you the very love of God Himself. When that happens, you will be, as the saying goes, “a priest after the Lord’s own Sacred Heart.”