December 2, 2016

As disciples of Christ, faithful are called to ‘obligation of love’

Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin sits in the new cathedra at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis for the first time during the Dec. 3, 2012, Mass when he was installed as the sixth archbishop of Indianapolis. (Criterion file photo by Mary Ann Garber)

Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin sits in the new cathedra at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis for the first time during the Dec. 3, 2012, Mass when he was installed as the sixth archbishop of Indianapolis. (Criterion file photo by Mary Ann Garber)

By Sean Gallagher

Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin shared a telling message about “the obligation of love” when he was installed as the sixth shepherd of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis on Dec. 3, 2012.

Defining Moments logoIn a homily he delivered during the Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis, the archbishop reflected on how St. Paul saw himself as obligated to preach the Gospel because Christ loved him first.

“And so, for us Catholics of central and southern Indiana, if someone asks us, ‘Why do you do what you do?,’ it’s not simply because we’re obeying rules,” Archbishop Tobin said.

“It is rather an encounter with a person, someone who has loved us first and someone who asks us to continue his loving presence in the world. And so all of us who belong to this particular Church are under an obligation—the obligation of love.”

Archbishop Tobin said that he and the Catholics of central and southern Indiana are to express that love with the passion that drove St. Francis Xavier, a patron saint of the archdiocese whose feast day is Dec. 3, to preach the Gospel in India—halfway around the world from his home in Spain.

“What we will do together as a Church, we will do with passion, the passion that characterized our patron saint, Francis Xavier,” Archbishop Tobin said. “And we will do whatever the Lord asks us to do in bringing the Good News, especially to those who have the least chance of hearing it, for those who live on the margin of things, for those who have been hurt by the Church, for those who feel themselves to be forgotten.”

Archbishop Tobin also called upon the example of the Servant of God Bishop Simon Bruté, the first bishop of Vincennes, to explain how to love and avoid the opposite of love—fear.

He first quoted—and claimed as a description of his own mission—a pastoral letter that Bishop Bruté wrote to the Catholics of his diocese shortly after he was ordained a bishop in 1834 in which he described himself as “your chief pastor.”

“He didn’t say ‘the only pastor,’ ” Archbishop Tobin said. “For the mission that I begin today, I share.”

He then described the people with whom he will minister as shepherd of the archdiocese—the priests, deacons, religious and lay faithful of central and southern Indiana.

Archbishop Tobin then recalled a saying of Bishop Bruté.

“He said, ‘Fear is one of the devil’s greatest devices.’ The Archdiocese of Indianapolis will not be a Church of fear because it could not [then] be true to Jesus Christ, who said that love is the characteristic of his disciples. We will seek to eliminate fear. And we will announce the Good News together.”

Archbishop Tobin also paid tribute to his immediate predecessor, Archbishop Emeritus Daniel M. Buechlein, who attended the installation Mass.

In remarks at the end of the Mass, Archbishop Tobin thanked Archbishop Buechlein “for laying a firm foundation and of being so gracious to me in our conversations, and for his promise to be always a cell phone call away when I run up against implacable problems.” †

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