Bishop Anthony B. Taylor delivered this homily Dec. 15.
All of us are afraid of something — it is simply the human condition. What do you fear? Spiders, snakes, failure, displeasing others?
The biggest fear that I see plaguing our youth these days is fear of making a commitment. Courage is when we confront our fears and trust in God enough to risk doing what he asks of us — confident that God will steer us in the right direction. Anything less is cowardice and a failure to trust in God’s providence, protection and help.
The reason we light a pink candle on this Third Sunday of Advent is that we can now see the light at the end of the tunnel of our fears, as we see in today’s Scriptures.
In our first reading Zephaniah proclaims that once “the Lord is in [our] midst, [we will] have no further misfortune to fear. On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem, ‘Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged! The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a mighty Savior …’”
In our Gospel John the Baptist speaks words intended to encourage the faithful and put the fear of God into those who are not: “What should [we] do?” He says: Share with the poor, stop exploiting others, speak the truth and be satisfied with what you have. When the Mighty One comes he “will gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” And in the meantime, St. Paul tells us in our second reading to be courageous: “have no anxiety at all, for the Lord is near.” He will provide for us, protect us and help us do courageously whatever God asks of us.
And now in this Mass, 10 of our other seminarians will receive ministries that are proof that they are willing to do just that: set aside whatever initial fears of commitment they might have had. These 10 will now take the next step in responding to the call of the Lord in their lives. These ministries mark their progress along the road to ordination.
The first of these ministries is that of lector already received by our First Theologians Jaime Nieto, Daniel Wendel and Nathan Ashburn just after the opening prayer of this Mass. These three have been entrusted with reading the Scriptures at Mass, with the exception of the Gospel — you have to be a deacon to do that.
The second ministry is that of acolyte to be received by Second Theologians Alex Smith, Emmanuel Torres, Omar Galván, Brian Cundall and Ben Riley. These seminarians will be entrusted in a more formal way with service at the altar, and as such they will help to prepare the altar and distribute the Eucharist to the faithful. They will now also be able to expose the Blessed Sacrament for adoration but cannot give Benediction — you also have to be a deacon to do that.
And then the third step we will be marking today is candidacy, to be received by Third Theologians Daniel Velasco and Joseph Friend. Today Joseph and Daniel will publicly express their intention to receive holy orders and I as their bishop will publicly accept that intention; meaning that I believe that Daniel and Joseph have the necessary qualifications and have achieved sufficient maturity. Indeed, I have already scheduled their ordination to the diaconate for May 17 and May 22, respectively.
So in today’s Mass, 10 of our seminarians will mark their progress to the priesthood in one of these three ways. This is a source of great joy for me and I’m sure for all of us gathered here today.
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