First Homily

“Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.”

Most of us here in this church are familiar with St. Teresa of Calcutta, who was one of the saintliest women in modern times. In establishing the Missionaries of Charity, she attended to the poorest of the poor, fed the hungry, clothed the naked, cared for the disabled, and visited those in prison. However, the Church in the recent past has discovered that Mother Teresa experienced intense sufferings through the dark night of the soul. Despite all her exemplary works and her heroically fulfilling the two great of the commandments: love of God and love neighbor, she was apparently deprived of all consolations from God, for over 50 years. Now, although her mystical experience is something rare and reserved for a select few, we can imitate her trust in God, and that God remains faithful to his promises

“My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.”

You and I can imagine that these words did not fall easily on Mother Teresa’s ears as she persevered through her sufferings because of the spiritual challenges she had. Mother Teresa’s heart and life reveal the proper way to embrace today’s Gospel. God’s word is clear, and He is calling us to enter in a deep intimacy with Him by living out the commandments and turning away from sin. To love Christ means to keep the commandments. Mother Teresa’s example shows us true and authentic love is not a feeling but that it is self-sacrificial in nature. No greater love has any man, Jesus said, than to lay down his life for his friends. My dear friends in Christ, let us recall that God first loved us and gave His only Son Jesus Christ who offered His life on the cross for us, while were still sinners. This is His sheer gift to us, and we are called to respond in gratitude to Him by obeying His commandments.

“Whoever loves me will keep my word, and My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.”

The Lord raises an implicit question to you and me today: What price are we willing to pay in order to live out the Gospel, what price are we willing to pay to enter into that intimacy and union between Christ and the Father? Mother Teresa embraced love of God and neighbor, but she also embraced self-denial; she remained a humble instrument in the hands of God and remained faithful to the commandments, even when she did not feel God’s presence. As Saint Paul would say: “the Love of Christ compels us.” In other words, although the Church urges to receive God’s love, she begins with the love of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, who seeks to transform us and work through our weakness. The supernatural life first comes from the Spirit and not from human effort, although we have our role to play in the love story. Finally, we must allow the Holy Spirit, the comforter, to imbue His love in our hearts, enabling us to cry out “Abba, Father,” as beloved sons and daughters of the Father. Our love for Jesus Christ must be stronger than our love for all worldly goods or any attachment to sin, because these things can distract us from our final end, our eternal dwelling with the Father.

As we approach the altar to receive Our Lord today in the Eucharist, let us ask Him to purify our hearts of all disordered affections so that we may not find the commandments burdensome. Rather, in being captured by His love, we may come to realize that living out the commandments begins with a relationship with the person, Jesus Christ, true God and true man, and who hung upon a cross for us, and now… calls us to union with him and to imitate him, as we lay down our lives for one another. So… what is it that Mother Teresa teaches us? She shows us that despite all of her spiritual challenges, God remained faithful to His promises as she remained faithful in her love for God and trust in Him. For her, “obeying the commandments” came from a place of deep love for Christ. She loved God and neighbor, and nothing distracted her from that, and that is why she is such a WONDERFUL example for us. God bless you.

Deacon Férry Galbert was one of six seminarians ordained to the transitional diaconate on Saturday by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano. It is the last step before being ordained to the priesthood next year. Deacon Galbert delivered his first homily on Sunday at the Basilica of St. John the Evangelist in Stamford. The bishop has assigned him to serve at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Nichols in preparation for his ordination next Spring. Deacon Galbert was born in Haiti and moved to the United States as a child. He grew up in Stamford and has been a parishioner at the Basilica of St. John the Evangelist in Stamford, where he also served as an MC, for many years. A Registered Nurse, Deacon Galbert worked for some years at Stamford Hospital before entering seminary. He studied at the St. John Fisher Seminary Residence, and more recently at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, N.Y., where Deacon Colin Lomnitzer also studies.

(This is the first homily delivered by newly ordained Deacon Férry Galbert at the Basilica of St. John the Evangelist in Stamford on Sunday.)