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Bishop Burbidge's homily at 2016 Chrism Mass


There was such a spirit of gratitude and joy when just recently the dome for Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral was lifted. Of course, gratitude is expressed to God, the Source of all we do, and deep thanks to those throughout our diocese who have and continue to offer generous support on behalf of this project. A new prayer for our workers and the successful completion of the cathedral is found in today’s liturgical program and a holy card with the prayer will also be handed to you as you leave Mass today. Please keep this intention close to your heart.

When the dome was finally in place, one NC State student turned to me and said: “Well, you can’t help but to look up now!” Yet, as we know that is not always the reality in our daily lives. Too often, we simply look straight ahead and rush through each day focused only on the earthly tasks and duties that come our way. When we fail to look above to the One on whose providential care we must depend, we often stumble.

Recently, I celebrated the Funeral Mass for a dear friend. While in a rehabilitation center, his family was  walking with him down the hall. Suddenly, he began to fall, and they were unable to stop him. They were devastated. At that point, he looked up to them and said: “It is okay. How many times did Jesus fall? Help me up, and let’s continue this walk.”

In a sense, that experience helps us to understand the central message of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. As we strive our very best to walk as faithful followers of Jesus, we sometimes stumble. We try to be faithful to God’s commands and the promises of our vocation, and we fall. We try to persevere in the midst of our crosses, and we fall. We try to resist the temptations around us, and we fall. We try to rid ourselves of anger and bitterness, and we fall. In all likelihood, most times when we stumble, our eyes are not fixed above.

In a special way throughout this Jubilee Year, the Lord is reminding us that His eyes are always fixed on us. Whenever we fall, the Lord God is there to help us up with the promises: that no sin is greater than his mercy; that all suffering united to his will lead to glory; and that never is it too late to walk with him in newness of life. No wonder we echo the words of the psalmist: “Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.”

My brother priests, you try daily to be faithful to God’s call and to offer sacrificial service to His Church and all those entrusted to your care. With all gathered today, I express profound thanks for the gift you are to me and our diocese. Yet, like all of us, you sometimes fall. So how blessed you are in just a few moments to renew your promises of Ordination, which no doubt, our merciful God receives with great joy. And dear friends in Christ, as you pray for your priests, also renew your commitment to love and serve God and one another.

Such a commitment is necessary for all of us because we know there are many people in our families, parishes and communities who are in danger of falling, including the poor, the sick and the vulnerable. We must be there to help them, for as God’s Word tells us: the Spirit of the Lord is upon us, and we are to bring glad tidings to the lowly and heal the brokenhearted.

I am so proud of the countless ministries in our parishes and throughout our diocese that respond to that call, including Catholic Charities. As a sign of our ongoing support and with the recommendation of my advisors, I have designated in this Jubilee Year of Mercy $120,000 from a special endowment fund to assist Catholic Charities. The funds will be distributed throughout each deanery, and Catholic Charities will work with the Deans and Pastors in how best to use them in performing the corporal works of mercy in response to those who most need our compassion and direct assistance.

What is about to occur within this Mass powerfully reminds us that, in all our pastoral outreach and service, it is Christ we are called to bring to others, not merely ourselves. And so, the sacred chrism will be consecrated and the oils of the catechumens and the sick will be blessed. They will be carried home and used for the celebration of the sacraments and as the powerful signs of God’s healing and saving love in our midst. May we go forth and share with others our firm belief that He is the One who embraces us in divine mercy whenever we fall, so that we may continue this earthly journey with our eyes fixed above as we rely on His providential care and rejoice in the new life He offers to us both now and forever. Amen.