“Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.” (Matthew 11:26)
My friends I cannot begin to tell you how thrilled I am to be with you today to celebrate my first Sunday Mass as your new pastor. I’m not just excited because I’m beginning a new ministry, I’m excited because everywhere God has led me has been a source of great joy as I share Jesus Christ with the people of God. This is an amazing parish with a great tradition that spans 60 years, and as I wrote in the bulletin, I was humbled when they Archbishop called me to tell me that I was coming to Immaculate Conception in the great city of Hialeah. While I wasn’t technically born here (I was born in South Miami hospital), my parents did live here when I was born which is why my father has no problem telling people that I was actually born in Hialeah. We lived here for two years and now I get to come back to a place where I literally took my first steps. This week I begin to take my first steps as your pastor, for such has been God’s gracious will. The words of the gospel today are so comforting for all of us as we each go through this parochial transition. We turn to God and trust in his will. I remember three years ago, I had this exact same gospel on my first Sunday in a new parish that was undergoing a similar transition, and I spoke about the hidden things that God only reveals to the childlike. As God’s children, we entrust ourselves to him this day so that he may continue to reveal his will to us and find rest from our burdens in the Lord.
Jesus himself promises us that he will give us rest. We are in the midst of summer and I know that many are off vacationing especially during the long weekend, but the invitation to rest is a daily one from the Lord. Where can we find this rest? Where we can we put on the yoke of the Lord and learn from him? We are so blessed as a parish that we have a Perpetual Adoration Chapel. Jesus is there waiting for us, longing for us, and thirsting for our presence. I invite you to get to know that chapel, to make it your second home. Since I got here last Monday, I have always found people in their before work, after work, early in the morning, late at night, all of them brining their burdens before Jesus in the Eucharist. It is an oasis of peace. Even during the 4th of July celebration on Friday, there were people there. There is no greater treasure on this property than the Real Presence of our Lord in that little chapel. You will find silence in this noisy world. You will find the peace that you can rarely found out there.
As we begin this new chapter in the rich life of our parish, may we rededicate ourselves to prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. I ask for your prayers as I begin my ministry as your pastor. Always pray for your priests. And as we join in prayer, may we pray for each other that we may strive for nothing less than holiness. During my first nights here, I have walked around the campus admiring the beautifully lit tower that shines brightly and can be seen all around this great community. My prayer this day is that Immaculate Conception continue to be a beacon like that tower to all who are burdened and need Jesus Christ. Know that I am here to serve you and to walk with you as we continue to build the Kingdom of God here in Hialeah. Entrusting ourselves to our Blessed Mother and united in prayer, we thank God for bringing us to this moment, for this has been his “gracious will.”