I was reminded again of an incident that happened with Pope Francis on Pentecost Sunday -- and perhaps I've shared this with you already, but it's so extraordinary that it's worth reflecting on again.
The Peace Pulpit
The Peace Pulpit is made up of the Sunday homilies of Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, a retired Roman Catholic auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Detroit.
Later this afternoon, as Father [Don] Walker announced last Sunday, this parish, together with Our Lady of Grace will have a procession with the Blessed Sacrament and celebrate Benediction at the end of that procession. Many of us, I'm sure, remember days long ago when this was very common: Corpus Christi, the Peace of the Body and Blood of Jesus, where we have outdoor procession and we walked around in the streets, publicly acclaiming our belief that that piece of bread was really and truly the body and blood of the Son of God.
I'm sure all of us have noticed over the past few weeks now how many times Pope Francis comes into the news because of the kind of unusual things that he's begun to do, the way he's carried out his understanding of the role of what it means to be the bishop of Rome. One of the things that he did quite recently that I find very instructive, especially as we reflect on the Trinity today: He was at St. Peter's Square and, of course, as is so often, there were tens of thousands of people there and at one point, they all began to cry out in unison, "Francesco! Francesco! Viva Francesco!"
Peace Pulpit: Each of us is blessed with gifts and then called to service, to minister within the community and, as part of the community, to minister to the world.
Sometimes things are happening in the world around us that provide a very good context to listen to the Scriptures, as we're doing this morning during this liturgy. What's going on, you may have heard about, is controversy within our church. This past week, there was a demonstration [in Detroit] of people who call themselves Fortunate Families. They were demonstrating in front of the archbishop's office because they're families who have committed gay members within them, or lesbian members.
Many times we have spoken and heard the Gospel at different times express ideas about the reign of God, the kingdom of heaven. What do we mean by that reign of God, what Jesus spoke about at the very beginning of his public life? "The reign of God is at hand. Change your lives. The reign of God is ready to break forth into human history in its fullness." We can speak about the reign of God as God's dynamic role of saving love over all of creation, over each one of us, over all of humanity, where God's love becomes the dynamic force energizing all of us and all of creation.
The Peace Pulpit (with audio): Each of us must carry on the work of Jesus, to be that Good Shepherd who knows and loves others. Listen to Bishop Gumbleton's latest homily.
This Gospel that we hear today is really sort of a surprise because if you remember last Sunday, that scene in the upper room eight days after Jesus had risen from the dead and he came back and showed Thomas his side and his hands and so on -- at the end of all of that, in John’s Gospel, he writes, “There were many other signs that Jesus gave in the presence of his disciples, but they’re not recorded in this book. These are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Believe, and you will have life through his name.”
It always amazes me how the Gospel lessons that are assigned as they are for this particular Sunday every year, even though they are there the Sunday after Easter every year, they fit in so well with what we've been talking about all day. It's almost as though we had designed these three lessons for this evening, but they are the teachings for the whole church this weekend. They are very important and they do fit in with what we are talking about today: how to stop violence and build peace.
Editor’s note: This homily was given at an Easter vigil Mass on March 30.
Surely this is the longest liturgy of the Word that we have during our whole church year, and you might think it would be a merciful thing if there were no homily. But the book says that the celebrant is to give a homily, so we have to do something. It's certainly worth it to spend just a few moments reflecting on all that we have heard tonight, but especially on the Gospel lesson, which climaxes everything that has led up to it.