This is an excerpt of Archbishop J. Michael Miller's homily during a visit to Immaculate Conception Parish in Delta May 19.

This experience of meeting and talking with so many people who are engaged in the life of your parish family has been both inspiring and a cause of great hope for the future of the Catholic Church in North Delta. You should be proud that, with God’s grace, your community is flourishing under the shepherding guidance of your beloved pastor, Father Abundo, and his assistants Father Lucio and Father Camillus.

I am very grateful for your hospitality and that of all those who worked so hard to organize my visit during this holiday weekend. I know just how hard it is to get so many people together on a tight schedule. And thanks, too, for all who made the sacrifice to come together and meet with me.

After meeting with the principal and teachers of the school and the Parish Education Committee, I have come away with a deep appreciation of just how blessed you are to have such an outstanding school within your parish. The dedication of the staff is unparalleled and it is fulfilling its mission as a Catholic school in an exemplary way. Moreover, it is clear to me that the parish embraces the school as an essential ministry integral to the parish community. It is a true parish school.

The school, however, does face the challenge of constructing a new building. This is a project whose planning must begin without delay, even though it might take a number of years to bring it to completion.

It was a pleasure for me to discover the many ways in which the parish provides for the spiritual growth of the parishioners. Most notably, the addition of a Chapel of Adoration, opened last week on the feast of Our Lady of Fatima and blessed just before Mass this morning, will bring many blessings to your community. I urge as many of you as possible to make a commitment to pray an hour a week before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament for your own intentions, for your parish, and for an increase of vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life.

But there are many other groups dedicated to prayer as well, and each one (like the Charismatic Prayer Group and Miracle Hour, to name just two) contributes to the spiritual flourishing of your parish family.

Along the same lines I would like to commend you for implementing Discover Discipleship – the small groups involved in faith formation. This program, initiated by Catholic Christian Outreach, has great potential for bringing parishioners closer to Jesus. 

It is certainly the Lord’s work in your midst that so many of you are putting your gifts and talents at the service of other parishioners, as well as the wider community. The dedication of those who continue to serve year after year bears witness to your love for your parish. 

I thank you and urge you to continue to expand your good works, inviting ever more parishioners to share in your many ministries, especially those who are younger and not yet as fully involved as those who have found a home here for many years.


Today’s Gospel tells us that love – a certain kind of love – is at the heart of all Christian discipleship: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:34-35).

But why, we might ask, did Jesus call this commandment of love “new”? Through Moses, the Lord God had said to the people of Israel: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself” (cf. Lev 19:18; Dt 6:5). But that command of the Old Testament was not enough. It didn’t present any concrete model of love; it only formulated the precept of love. With Jesus, we have the model of what it means to love. 

And he goes beyond the Old Testament and beyond the Golden Rule of treating others as we want to be treated. Good, but not enough! Jesus loved us more than he loved himself – and he invites us to do likewise. (See St. Cyril of Jerusalem's commentary On John's Gospel).

Jesus showed us the novelty of his command and how far the love he asked for surpassed the older conception of love: “Love one another, Just as I have loved you.”

The Love of Jesus 

To understand the full force of these words, we have to consider how Christ loved us. In Jesus, we have seen and come to know the greatest love possible, one which is both human and divine. No other person has ever loved, nor will ever love, with such intensity and passion as Jesus Christ. His love for us drove him to Calvary, where he nailed our sins to the Cross.

How, then, can we sum up Jesus’ love? Let’s use the language of “gift.” He made a total gift of himself – not only to his Father into whose hands he commended his spirit, but to you and me as well. He held nothing back; he kept nothing for himself. He was all for the Father – and all for us.

We, of course, cannot exactly reproduce Jesus’ love, just as we cannot reproduce his life. But we are called to follow his example. We are his disciples, followers.

We can strive to imitate the kind of sacrificial love Jesus has for us. We won’t do it perfectly because we are still sinners, but we do have grace – God’s love for us – on our side. All I want to say is that, in the words of Pope Francis, “Christian love always possesses one quality: concreteness. Christian love is concrete. Jesus himself, when he speaks of love, tells us concrete things: feed the hungry, visit the sick. They are all concrete things for indeed love is concrete. When this concreteness is lacking we end up living a Christianity of illusions, for we do not understand the heart of Jesus’ message.”

It is in the family that this love first shows itself as concrete. And I suggest just one question about this concrete love for you to consider. How good are you at forgiving those closest to you? Those in your family?

It is of the utmost importance to know how to forgive one another in our families because at times we hurt others, whether intentionally or not. We can speak harsh words, get angry or even resentful. But if you want to love as Jesus did, don’t ever let the sun set without reconciling. Peace is made each day in the family.

A family where its members ask for forgiveness and grant it readily is one where trust and love, peace and harmony, can flourish and be the foundation of a joyful life. The family should be the first place of mercy, where everyone can feel welcomed, loved, forgiven and encouraged to live the good life of the Gospel.