By Msgr. Joseph P. Calise
Although this is not usually the forum for personal messages, I do want to make an exception today and wish my classmate, Fr. Dave Dettmer, the Pastor of St. Edmund’s parish in Brooklyn, a very Happy 40th Anniversary of Ordination.
He and I were ordained together on June 28, 1980, at Saint James Cathedral by Bishop Mugavero. We had the privilege of celebrating our First Masses the following day on the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. If I had tried that day to predict what the next 40 years would be like, I would have been very wrong. There is no way I could have foreseen the twists and turns that ministry in the Diocese of Brooklyn was going to take.
The diocese offers such a variety of ministries, cultures, and languages that change is a constant part of who we become. I think that most priests could say that, at least in hindsight, ordination was a step into the unknown and unpredictable. As the procession left the Cathedral that day, Bishop Mugavero was the last to leave the sanctuary.
Showing his typical love for people, as he stepped out of the sanctuary he went directly to each of our mothers sitting in the first row across from one another. My mother told me later that, as he held her hand, he simply said, “Thank you for your son.” There was no turning back, my obedience and respect were promised to the Bishop and his successors. I would always be her son but had to go wherever the Church would send me.
In the Gospel, Jesus tells His apostles that whoever loves even father and mother more than Him, is not worthy of Him and cannot be His disciple. They are either all in for their new role as apostles or they cannot do it at all. This call to pick up our own cross, our own completing the will of the Father, is not
limited to the apostles.
Jesus says “whoever.” In the Second Reading from the Letter of Paul to the Romans, St. Paul reminds us that, “we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death.”
Acknowledging Jesus as Lord is a fulltime commitment. Just as ordination is for priests, Baptism is a step into the unknown for all Christians. A step we can only take trusting that God has a plan for us, even when we do not know what that plan is.
Each of us has a place in God’s plan.
Each of us has something to do, someone to be as an act of discipleship. If we understand it as a living out of our Baptism promises, being a parent, spouse, teacher, laborer, sibling — all are modes of discipleship because they become vehicles for taking the love we trust God has for us and sharing it with another person. Caring for the sick as well as accepting the limitations of our own bodies, helping those less fortunate even when we do not have everything we want, and saying a prayer for someone
we know has a dislike for us are only examples of ways to live out our discipleship. Jesus never promised us that following Him would be easy, but He did promise that it would be worth it.
In the First reading from The Second Book of Kings, Elisha rewards the nameless woman of Shunem with the promise of a son because of her kindness. In the Second Reading, St. Paul reminds us that Baptism is not only into the death but also the Resurrection of Christ. And Jesus simply says that the one who lives his discipleship well will “surely not lose his reward.”
We are baptized into Christ so all else finds its meaning in Him. When we do our best from day to day to follow wherever He leads, He ultimately leads us to happiness.
Readings for the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
2 Kings 4: 8-11, 14-16A
Psalm 89: 2-3, 16-17, 18-19
Romans 6: 3-4, 8-11
Matthew 1: 37-42