Br. José Velázquez, osc, professed his first vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience on August 28, 2013, the Feast of St. Augustine. Fr. Tom Enneking, osc, prior provincial of the U.S. Province of St. Odilia, delivered this homily on that day.
God’s ways are not our ways.
Who would have thought
• that this day would arrive?
• that a young man living in the heart of Mexico would have such a deep devotion to the Holy Cross that he would literally search the globe for a way to live a religious life with the Cross at the heart of it all?
• that he would find what he was looking for in a religious community just to the north of his home country?
God’s ways are not our ways.
We just heard the story of Abraham and how God said to him, “Go from your country and your kindred to the land that I will show you.”
What was God thinking? Why would God uproot someone from his homeland and his father’s house? Could Abraham not have been a blessing while staying at home?
And yet, God called and Abraham went, as the Lord had told him. And he was already 75 years old! Not exactly the age when most of us would think about packing our bags and making a major move in life!
Another amazing feature of the story is that there was no designated place for Abraham to settle. Today’s passage ends by telling us that Abraham journeyed by stages toward the Negeb.
His was to place his faith in God and allow God to lead the way.
We know there were any number of moments on the journey when Abraham took God to task about the promise of many descendants. It was many years later before his son, Isaac, was born.
And then God asked him to sacrifice this long-awaited only-begotten son! Listening and responding to the call of God is no easy thing!
José, a number of years ago you began to experience a call to live for God alone. You had no idea what God had in mind for you but you have been faithful and open to listening to the voice of the Spirit.
I remember the first time we spoke on the phone. You kept laughing during our conversation. Sarah did the same when she heard the three visitors tell Abraham that they would have a child within a year. I suspect your laughter reflected both your hope and your surprise that God might be opening a path to you that you had never imagined.
Yet, like Abraham, you and we trusted that there might be something to this call.
During your visits to our communities, the spirit of our Father Augustine touched our hearts and we came to call one another “brothers.”
Last year, we invested you in the Crosier habit on the feast of the Transfiguration. Your experience among us has transfigured you and is changing us.
You have known blessing and challenge among us. You have had to work at learning English and adapting to a new culture. Your relationship with God and your faith have deepened. You have been able to share your creative gifts with us. You have certainly brought new life to our community!
And we have come to love you as our brother! As you profess your vows today, we know that the journey continues, of course. Just as Abraham journeyed on by stages, there are many more days, weeks, and years ahead to live the mystery of your vocation as a brother of the Holy Cross.
Your example calls all of us to listen to God’s voice and be willing to leave the familiar behind in order to be led to the new life that God has prepared for us.