'Bishop Rey, may the joy, patience, and tenderness of our Blessed Mother Mary support you'

Here is the text of Bishop Jaime Soto's homily during evening prayer May 30 on the vigil of the Feast of the Visitation for the episcopal ordination of Bishop Rey Bersabal. The prayer service was held at St. John the Baptist Church in Folsom.

In this evening’s reading, St. Paul told the Galatians that in the fullness of time God chose Mary to give birth to his beloved Son, Jesus. In that moment, the fullness of time, God brought about the unimaginable, an unexpected work of mercy so that we might receive divine adoption. In the fullness of time, God chose Mary to be the Mother of God so that we might all become the children of God through Jesus Christ.

The New Testament canticle that we chanted together, was again taken from the words of Paul, spoken to the Ephesians. He repeated his reference to what God accomplished in the fullness of time. “God has given us the wisdom to understand fully the mystery, the plan he was pleased to decree in Christ. A plan to be carried out in Christ, in the fullness of time, to bring all things into one in him, in the heavens and on the earth.”

In Jesus we are the children of God. Therefore, we are one in Christ Jesus. Not only ourselves; we are one with all creation. Jesus is the firstborn of all creation. In Jesus we are a new creation conceived in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The humble young virgin of Nazareth was chosen by God’s favor, to personally participate in this new creation. She became the first to share this Evangelii Gaudium, this gospel joy, with her cousin Elizabeth.Together they celebrated the fullness of time and shared in the joy of becoming one with the saving, unifying work of Jesus.

This evening, we begin to celebrate the feast of Her visitation with Elizabeth. Mary shares the joy of that moment with us. The thrill of her jubilant greeting to Elizabeth comes to us. With Elizabeth we also can exclaim, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” Because of Mary, we too are the fruit of her womb because in the fullness of time we are made one in Christ Jesus.God has given us the wisdom to understand fully this mystery: We are part of the fullness of time. Each of us has been called by God to share in the joyful communion of mercy. We are united through the blood of Christ Jesus.

Our brother, Rey Bersabal, has been called to share in the abiding work of building up the Church into the communion of mercy so that together with Christ Jesus we may holy and blameless in his sight. Since the visitation of Mary with Elizabeth, the labor of reconciliation and communion continues to unfold so that the fullness of time may blossom, bear fruit, and all people may know the joy of being the children of God.

Paul’s reference to time reminds us that revealing the fullness of God’s wisdom and mercy takes time. The mystery of God’s merciful plan patiently walks through time. Over time, many peoples of diverse nations and races have journeyed to California weaving a rich, cultural fabric of faith and charity, giving witness to the new creation in Christ. 

In God’s time, a son of Mindanao, has come among us bringing the Evangelii Gaudium of his people with his own cheerful and generous manner. He has now been chosen for the office of bishop to further the divine plan here in Northern California, to bring all people together with the truth and charity of Christ. The Lord Jesus in the fullness of time will make us the sign and instrument of his presence, el Santísimo Sacramento, the sacrament of mercy and unity in this part of his vineyard.

Bishop Rey, may the joy, patience, and tenderness of our Blessed Mother Mary support you. May her prayers as well as ours unite you ever more closely to the Lord Jesus so that the Church now and forever may sing in harmony the glorious favor he has bestowed on us through Christ, our Lord.