Priesthood Ordination of Nelson Rubio

Published: December 16, 2017

Bishop Anthony B. Taylor preached the following homily at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017. It was based on the following readings: Jeremiah 1:1,4-10; Hebrews 5:1-10; and John 4:5-15,19-26,40-42.

Bishop Taylor

As I read through the readings that Nelson chose for his ordination, a few things jumped out at me right away.

In our first reading Jeremiah resisted when God called him, saying among other things: “I do not know how to speak.” When God called Nelson, he did not yet know how to speak English, but Nelson did not resist — he said: “¡Sí!” To Jeremiah, God said, “to whomever I send you, you shall go.” For Nelson that meant going to Arkansas. And like Jeremiah, he said “yes!”

In our second reading from Hebrews, the author says that even though Jesus was the Son of God, “he learned obedience from what he suffered and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”

Nelson, before the Lord “formed you in the womb he knew you” and without yet knowing it, “before you were born” he had already designated you for a specific role in his divine plan: to be a priest of the Diocese of Little Rock.

And this certainly does resonate with the vocation of Nelson, who today becomes an "alter Christus," "another Christ" through ordination. He has learned obedience — he has learned to listen to God with a loving heart and do what God asks of him — through what he has suffered and continues to suffer.

Most obviously the painful, debilitating effects of the Guillaume Barré syndrome, but also the suffering of other losses as well, including what is going on in Venezuela and his inability to return there even to visit his mother. And yet like with Jesus, our eternal High Priest, Nelson offers his suffering up for the salvation of souls.

And then our beautiful Gospel account of Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman, where Jesus leads her step-by-step to faith in him as the Savior of the world. And of course as a priest Nelson will be accompanying many people in their own personal journey of faith.

Reaching out to those on the periphery: to ethnic minorities like the Samaritans of Jesus’ day, to those whose marital history is complicted, like this woman with six failed marriages and counting, challenging others to be more welcoming like Jesus challenged his own disciples who were shocked that he would even associate with such a woman, much less take such a woman so seriously as to talk theology with her. Offering her living water, inviting her to set aside her false gods and worship the one true God “in spirit and truth.”

Nelson, before the Lord “formed you in the womb he knew you” and without yet knowing it, “before you were born” he had already designated you for a specific role in his divine plan: to be a priest of the Diocese of Little Rock.

You came to know his plan for your life gradually, formed in the faith initially by your mother and the minor seminary in Venezuela, and then more recently here in the United States, in Arkansas and Wisconsin. Today we gather with people from near and far whose lives you have already touched and who are grateful to you for having said “yes.”

And so what thoughts do I want to leave you with today? Three things:

First, you must be “consecrated to the truth” — God appointed Jeremiah to be “a prophet to the nations” and the same is true for you. This means preaching the full truth of the Gospel, including those parts that people don’t want to hear. It is only by changing hearts that we change the world and that requires us to grapple with evil … and it isn’t always very pretty.

Second, you must be a man of prayer — the Liturgy of the Hours, a daily holy hour, daily Mass and so on. How else are you going to learn from the heart of Christ those truths that the Lord is trying to reveal to you and to your people? And the patience that ministry requires.

Third, you must die to yourself. Yours is now to be a life lived for others, everything for the greater glory of God. In this way your life will be conformed to that of Jesus the Good Shepherd who came not to be served but to serve and ultimately give his life — and now your life in one way or another — for the flock entrusted to your care.

Thank you Nelson for your “yes!” May God grant you a long, fruitful life in his service!