Parishes | Schools | Priests | Masses |
More in this section MAIN MENU

Perfect love makes even sacrifice a joy

Archbishop Wenski's homily at farewell Mass for Bishop Peter Baldacchino

Archbishop Thomas Wenski preached this homily at a Mass where staff of the archdiocesan Pastoral Center bid farewell to Auxiliary Bishop Peter Baldacchino as he leaves later this month for his new assignment as bishop of the Diocese of Las Cruces, New Mexico. The Mass was celebrated June 14, 2019, at St. Martha Church, which is located next to the Pastoral Center in Miami Shores.

Today’s Gospel reading reminds us that marriage is hard and that life is messy. While the word “gospel” means “good news,” the good news of our salvation in Christ Jesus has some hard sayings.

Way back when I was an altar boy and the Mass was still in Latin, at weddings, the priest always read from the ritual the same exhortation to the couple being married. The exhortation was in fact much more memorable than most homilies we might hear at weddings today. I say that because I can still remember that exhortation and I can’t remember most of the homilies I have heard. I can still remember that after speaking to the couple about “for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer,” the priest read these words: “Sacrifice is usually difficult and irksome. Only love can make it easy, and perfect love can make it a joy.”

Auxiliary Bishop Peter Baldacchino processes into St. Martha Church for the farewell Mass celebrated at the Pastoral Center June 14. Entering with him are Archbishop Emeritus John Favalora and Archbishop Thomas Wenski.

Photographer: ROCIO GRANADOS | LVC

Auxiliary Bishop Peter Baldacchino processes into St. Martha Church for the farewell Mass celebrated at the Pastoral Center June 14. Entering with him are Archbishop Emeritus John Favalora and Archbishop Thomas Wenski.

These, perhaps, are good words of advice for Bishop Baldacchino as he prepares to go to Las Cruces as its third bishop. Like marriages in biblical times – or marriages in some parts of the world even today – the bride and the groom did not meet until their wedding day. Marriages were “arranged marriages.”

A bishop is married to his diocese – as Christ is married to his bride, the Church (and that’s why we bishops wear rings). Las Cruces and Baldacchino is something of an arranged marriage. The first time he was in New Mexico was a few weeks ago for the announcement of the “engagement.” But, not to worry, arranged marriages have a good track record of working out well, in many cases much better than those marriages where the spouses picked each other. Sometimes, I remind priests who are fighting with the priest they’re living with in a rectory, that even husbands and wives fight from time to time – and they got to choose who they were going to live with, unlike most of our priests.

At any rate, as the words of that exhortation said, “Sacrifice is usually difficult and irksome.” It wasn’t easy to leave Malta to go to Newark. It might have been easier to leave there to go to the island paradise of the Turks and Caicos; but I’m sure it wasn’t easy to leave the traffic-free streets of the islands to come to Miami. In Las Cruces, you might not find much traffic but you’re not going to see much grass (unless it’s the kind that is smuggled across the border.) Like husbands and wives do, we priests respond to the Lord’s call: “for better or for worse.” And, we’re priests “until death do us part.” And certainly, if we offer the Holy Sacrifice every day, sacrifice must be the condition of our lives – no matter how difficult or how irksome. (If you want to know how irksome being a bishop is, you should read some of my mail.)

“Only love can make it easy, and perfect love can make it a joy.”

As St. Paul reminds us, we hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us. I am reminded every day that I am an earthen vessel when I pray at Mass first for the Holy Father, Francis, and then, “for me, your unworthy servant.”

We are willing to give in proportion as we love. And when love is perfect, the sacrifice is complete. We wish Bishop Baldacchino well as he goes to Las Cruces. Being a bishop in Las Cruces or anywhere else is more than a little challenging; but “...love can make it easy, and perfect love can make it a joy.”

Archbishop Thomas Wenski presents Auxiliary Bishop Peter Baldacchino with a framed version of a congratulatory ad purchased by the Archdiocese of Miami for Agua Viva, the newspaper of the Diocese of Las Cruces, New Mexico. The photo, taken by Sister Elizabeth Worley, a Sister of St. Joseph who serves as archdiocesan chancellor for administration, is a sunset view of the bay close to St. Kieran Church, Miami, where Bishop Baldacchino served as pastor for five years.

Photographer: ROCIO GRANADOS | LVC

Archbishop Thomas Wenski presents Auxiliary Bishop Peter Baldacchino with a framed version of a congratulatory ad purchased by the Archdiocese of Miami for Agua Viva, the newspaper of the Diocese of Las Cruces, New Mexico. The photo, taken by Sister Elizabeth Worley, a Sister of St. Joseph who serves as archdiocesan chancellor for administration, is a sunset view of the bay close to St. Kieran Church, Miami, where Bishop Baldacchino served as pastor for five years.


Latest News

Feature News

Parish News

School News

Sports

Columns

Homilies

Statements