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Comer: New Latter-day Saint apostle Patrick Kearon has compassion, humility, faith

By Ryan Comer - | Dec 16, 2023

Photo supplied

Ryan Comer

Going into each address at general conference, the semiannual gathering of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have no concerns about the quality of the remarks I am about to hear. This confidence comes in part from something Jeffrey R. Holland, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the church, once said about how such addresses are prepared.

During the April 2011 general conference, he said:

“Perhaps you already know (but if you don’t you should) that with rare exception, no man or woman who speaks here is assigned a topic. Each is to fast and pray, study and seek, start and stop and start again until he or she is confident that for this conference, at this time, his or hers is the topic the Lord wishes that speaker to present regardless of personal wishes or private preferences. Every man and woman you have heard during the past 10 hours of general conference has tried to be true to that prompting. Each has wept, worried and earnestly sought the Lord’s direction to guide his or her thoughts and expression.”

That being said, I would be lying if I said there wasn’t at least a little more excitement when the president of the church, he who is the prophet, and the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speak.

Every so often, however, there’s a speaker who isn’t an apostle or prophet who delivers his or her remarks in a truly captivating and memorable way. All the messages are terrific and helpful and exactly what we need to hear, but some simply hit different, and you know that you will never forget them.

Isaac Hale, Daily Herald file photo

Patrick Kearon, a General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, tells a joke as he speaks during Brigham Young University's commencement ceremony held Thursday, April 25, 2019, at the Marriott Center in Provo.

Elder Patrick Kearon, recently called as the newest member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles following the passing of President M. Russell Ballard, had what I thought was one of those addresses during the April 2022 general conference. After a humorous introduction that involved referring to himself as Elder Holland (you’ll have to go watch the beginning of Elder Holland’s address that immediately preceded Elder Kearon’s remarks to understand the full story), Elder Kearon spoke of surviving, overcoming and conquering abuses through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

“Our merciful savior, victorious over darkness and depravity, has power to right all wrongs, a life-giving truth for those wronged by others.

“Please know that the savior has descended below all things, even what has happened to you. Because of that, He knows exactly what real terror and shame feel like and how it feels to be abandoned and broken. From the depths of His atoning suffering, the savior imparts hope you thought was lost forever, strength you believed you could never possess and healing you couldn’t imagine was possible.”

Elder Kearon concluded:

“Dear friends who have been so terribly wounded — and for that matter, anyone who has borne the injustices of life — you can have a new beginning and a fresh start. In Gethsemane and on Calvary, Jesus ‘took upon Himself … all of the anguish and suffering ever experienced by you and me,’ and He has overcome it all! With arms outstretched, the savior offers the gift of healing to you. With courage, patience and faithful focus on Him, before too long you can come to fully accept this gift. You can let go of your pain and leave it at His feet.

“Your gentle savior declared, ‘The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that (you) might have life, and that (you) might have it more abundantly.’ You are a survivor, you can heal, and you can trust that with the power and grace of Jesus Christ, you will overcome and conquer.

“Jesus specializes in the seemingly impossible. He came here to make the impossible possible, the irredeemable redeemable, to heal the unhealable, to right the unrightable, to promise the unpromisable. And He’s really good at it. In fact, He’s perfect at it. In the name of Jesus Christ, our Healer, amen.”

I remember a conversation with someone after that general conference in which I said I wouldn’t be surprised if Elder Kearon at one point was called as an apostle.

I’m sure if Elder Kearon read that last comment, he’d probably respond with an “Oh, gee, you give me too much credit.” He seems like a genuinely humble person, completely aware of his own inadequacies. In a message posted on “X” on Dec. 8, he said:

“I’ve been asked what it feels like to be the newest apostle, and I think what I’d say is it feels exactly as you would imagine. I’ll leave you to wonder at that. But I’ve had every conceivable emotion and I know this is far beyond me, but I will plead for help. I do absolutely believe in a loving Father in Heaven, in his Son our Savior, and I know that they will help, and I’m counting on it. And I will do my best to become over time something along the lines of an apostle that you might have in your imagination.”

But this is what I love about how leaders are selected in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and what that says about what the Lord thinks about the potential for all of us. Imperfections and inadequacies aren’t disqualifying. That brings to mind an Elder Holland gem.

“Except in the case of His only perfect Begotten Son, imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with. That must be terribly frustrating to Him, but he deals with it.”

What matters is what we do despite our imperfections. Clearly, Elder Kearon is someone who recognizes his imperfections, yet has a desire to become better and has faith that the Lord will help him to do so.

I love that example for all of us. Just keep trying. Just keep attempting to do better. Plead for help, and count on receiving that help, because there is a loving Father in Heaven and his Son, our savior, who want to and are perfectly able to help us.

Contact Ryan Comer at rcomer@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @rbcomer8388 and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rbcomer8388.

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