The Love of Jesus
On the feast of the Presentation, Friday February 2, 2018, Archbishop Kurtz of Louisville ordained J. Mark Spalding as the 12th bishop of the diocese of Nashville.
Many of us have been anxiously awaiting the appointment, ordination and installation of our new bishop in Nashville. Our hearts are still mourning our beloved Bishop Choby. Our hearts are also apprehensive about the needs of our diocese, and entrusting ourselves to a new shepherd. Bishop Spalding put my fears, and I imagine those of everyone attending the ordination, to rest by boldly proclaiming the love of Christ Jesus.
The ordination mass was a beautiful liturgy and a vibrant reminder of the reality of the universal church. A nuncio from Rome read the mandate from Pope Francis, and it was actually part of the ordination ritual for Fr. Spalding to process around the church with the mandate to physically show the faithful that his ordination was a direct mandate from our Holy Father.
After Archbishop Kurtz laid his hands on Fr. Spalding and ordained him a bishop, God made it evident that the Holy Spirit was truly out poured in the heart and soul of this priest.
At the end of the liturgy, newly ordained Bishop Spalding approached the podium, announcing he never missed an opportunity to preach. He then boldly and zealously proclaimed, "I have the love of Jesus in my heart." This was not a cheesy or trite statement, it was clear that Bishop Spalding was deeply moved by the Holy Spirit and wanted to share that reality with his new flock. Bishop Spalding went on to state (and I paraphrase):
This ordination is not about me, it is about Him who died and rose for me, for us. It is about Jesus. If you have the love of Jesus in your heart, then you work to build His kingdom on earth. This is what we celebrate in our diocese today and what we will accomplish if we accept the love of Jesus.
I leaned over to my dad, who was sitting beside me, and I whispered, "Well I guess we can keep him."
What a powerful testimony to his own personal relationship with Jesus Christ! And it was bold to remind the faithful of the task before us. We are all called to conversion. To continued renewal and a deepened love and acceptance of the love and will of Jesus Christ. And that love is what enables us to set this world ablaze with the fire of the Holy Spirit.
I am, once again, mindful of the fact that Bishop Spalding's predecessor, our beloved Bishop Choby, went to God on the vigil of Pentecost. And here on the Feast of the Presentation, when the temple was filled with the real presence of the infant Jesus, and therefore the fullness of the Holy Spirit as well, we are truly on the eve of a new Pentecost in the diocese of Nashville.
May the love of Jesus be truly out poured in our hearts so that we may set this city ablaze with the fire of the Holy Spirit for the renewal of the world and the establishment of the kingdom of God.