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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Faith, Hope, and Love – Living as an Example of Christ in a Fallen World

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Suzanne Hammons
Suzanne Hammonshttp://dioceseofgallup.org
Suzanne Hammons is the editor of the Voice of the Southwest and the media coordinator for the Diocese of Gallup. A graduate of Benedictine College in Kansas, she joined the Diocesan staff in 2012.

At the celebration of Bishop Wall’s 25th ordination anniversary Mass in Gallup, NM, homilist Fr. Burke Masters stressed the importance of the three Theological Virtues of Faith, Hope, and Love.

Speaking to the congregation at Sacred Heart Cathedral on June 6, 2023, he emphasized that all are called to “beatitude”, or true happiness in God.

“These three Theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Love are what help us to find that true happiness in, with, and through Jesus Christ.”

Fr. Masters pointed out the faith of Bishop Wall’s parents, who converted to Catholicism, and the faith of men who discern and follow after their call to the priesthood.

“It takes a lot of faith to come to the church not being raised Catholic. It takes a lot of faith to answer the call when this is not an easy call to answer, especially in today’s world when there’s so many other things offered to young men to think, ‘I’m being called to be a priest in the Catholic Church?’ We have been chosen by God and that requires a response in faith.”

Fr. Masters is a convert himself – he attended a Catholic college in order to play baseball, and after his then-girlfriend invited him to Adoration, he realized that God was calling him to a vocation as a priest.

Now, Fr. Masters serves as the chaplain to the Chicago Cubs MLB team. It was this mutual love of sports, in part, that led to his fast friendship with Bishop Wall.

“His dad was a football coach, my dad was a baseball coach. He loves sports, [we have] so much in common and have just been great friends.”

Fr. Masters joked that sports teams often force fans to put hope into practice.

“In Chicago it’s very common to say, ‘to be a Cubs fan you have to have hope’. Maybe to be an Arizona Cardinals fan or a Phoenix Suns fan you have to have hope. But all kidding aside, the readings today, especially the second reading, speaks to the sense of hope. Because in our world today we hear about hopelessness, we hear about despair, we hear people who are discouraged at alarming rates. So where does our hope come from? It’s certainly not watching TV. It’s not by reading the newspapers. It’s not by whatever is happening in the political world. But our hope lies in Jesus Christ.”

Finally, Fr. Masters said, to understand the love of Christ, we must understand the difference between phileo (brotherly love), and agape (love of God for man and man for God). He cited the Gospel reading of Jesus asking Peter three times whether he loved Him.

“Jesus always meets us where we’re at. He loves us without condemnation, without shame. And then He calls us to higher ground. He calls us to holiness. And that’s what He did with Peter. He meets Peter at that brotherly love level.”

But Jesus, referencing Peter’s future death by crucifixion, then tells him that he will be led where he does not want to go.

“So Peter got to that point eventually of literally laying down his life for Christ. And so, no matter where we’re at, my brothers and sisters, whatever level of love we’re at – whether it’s phileo or agape – the Lord wants to lead us to that level of agape love. All of us – whether we’re clergy, religious, married, single – we’re all called to lay down our lives for the Lord and for one another.”

Bishop Wall, before the close of Mass, also addressed those in attendance. He expressed special gratitude to his mom and sister, priests from around the diocese, and two fellow bishops – Archbishop John Wester of Santa Fe and Bishop John Dolan of Phoenix.

“I’m just really filled with joy to see bishops and priests and deacons and consecrated religious and the lay faithful. And the reason why it fills my heart with so much joy is I look around and I see everyone who has received a call from the Lord and in some way, some fashion, said ‘yes’ to it. And I think that’s a beautiful life, to be able to know your vocation…and then follow after it because that’s service to the Lord and to His Church.”

He noted the importance of fostering vocations, firstly for his fellow clergy.

“I think we as priests, we as bishops, as deacons – I think it’s important for us to be generative: to give new life, to help to foster vocations, to be those men of encouragement. By [our] example, encouraging our young men forward in order to follow after their vocation, whether it’s as a deacon, whether it’s a priest, whether it’s as a bishop.”

Finally, Bishop Wall said, all Catholics, no matter their state in life, are called to set a standard of love for the Church and the world at large.

“I also share that very same thing with our religious who are here, we have a wonderful turnout of consecrated women who are here with us. To encourage, right? To encourage. I don’t think the Lord has stopped calling people, but I think unfortunately our world has stopped listening. And so to help our people to hear that call amidst all the noise, all the things that are trying to block that away.

“And then finally: vocation to the sacrament of holy matrimony. We’ve seen that start to go down slower and slower and slower, and fewer and fewer people are getting married. They don’t see the need for the sacrament of Holy Matrimony. And so for our married couples here, people of encouragement, set a good example. Encourage people to get married, encourage them to really enjoy the sacrament, be that light of Christ in the world, shine forth in the love that you have for one another.”

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