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Follow a servant leader to truly become a community of disciples

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Bishop Thomas Gumbleton gave the following homily June 3 for Fr. Michael Donovan, the pastor of St. Donald Parish in Roseville, Mich., who is celebrating his 50th year in the priesthood.

It is, for me, a great honor, privilege and a joy to be here today to celebrate with Father Mike the 50 years that he has given of his life to serve God's people and to serve God as a priest. We all rejoice with Father Mike and give thanks to God for him. He has asked me to, through the reflection today, which I'm very happy to do. ... I spent this week trying to prepare this homily, and I felt very much like I did way back in the 1950s, when I was at St. John's [Provincial Seminary in Michigan] before Father Mike was.

Pentecost reminds us to be forgiving 'other Christs'

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It's very important that we now take a few moments to reflect on the scripture lessons that we've heard today, and to reflect on those lessons in the context of this great feast of Pentecost that we're celebrating, but also, in a way even more in the context of this sacrament of confirmation that we're celebrating. It's very important for these four young people, but also for the rest of us, because it's important that we remind ourselves that each one of us has been baptized and confirmed in the Holy Spirit of Jesus.

God's eternal love provides perfect example

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I think to begin to get the full impact of what Jesus is teaching us today, it's helpful to go back a little way in this Gospel. During this same Last Supper conversation a few minutes earlier, Jesus had told his disciples, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to God but through me, and if you know me, you know God also. Indeed, you know him and have seen him." Then Phillip, at this point in the conversation, says, "Lord, show us God and that will be enough."

Where we find peace in our hearts

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At the end of our first lesson today, St. Luke describes how that first Christian community lived and what was happening to them. He says, "The church was at peace and was built up throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria with eyes turned to God and the church lived, filled with comfort from the Holy Spirit." In a couple of other places in the Acts of the Apostles, St. Luke describes how that early Christian community was at peace.

Love and sacrifice are necessary to truly accept Jesus

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As we listen to today's scripture lessons, one of the most important parts for us to reflect upon is the part where Peter is standing before the Sanhedrin, the religious leaders of God's people, and declares to them, "You and all the people of Israel must know that this cripple stands before you, cured through the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene. You had him crucified yet God raised him from the dead. So Jesus is the stone rejected by you, the builders. This stone has become the cornerstone."

Confirmation means a transformation of the spirit

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I'm sure sometimes people wonder, why do I do that? Because, after all, they have prepared over a period of time and they're dressed up in their confirmation robes and everybody's here to celebrate with them, and so why would I ask the question, "Do you want to be confirmed?" Well, the reason I do -- and this is important for the candidates especially, but for all of us because we can remember our own confirmation and what it means.

The Holy Spirit helps each of us transform the world

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It's really amazing how appropriate these readings are for what we're celebrating today. The account in the Gospel, as you know, is the first Easter Sunday, the day Jesus rose from the dead. If you remember last Sunday's Gospel, the day of Easter, John is the same Gospel writer who told us how early in the morning, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and was worried about the stone being moved away. It was gone, and she discovered that the tomb was empty. She was terrified.

The truth of the Resurrection

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In the past, I used to think about the Resurrection -- and perhaps many of you did, too -- as a very important proof about Jesus. He had claimed to be the Son of God, and so the Resurrection proves that He really is who He says He is -- the Son of God, not just son of Mary and Joseph. That, of course, is an important part of the Resurrection, yet if you listen to today’s Gospel, those disciples at the beginning did not see it that way.

Follow Jesus' way in suffering and death by rejecting violence

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With our solemn procession, carrying our palm branches, we have begun the most important, most sacred, most holy week of our church year, and we have listened to the full account of the sufferings and death of Jesus. During this week, we are invited now to enter into the experiences of Jesus, to hear more deeply perhaps than ever before the words of Jesus, because this is the week when we can once more undergo the profound transformation that God calls us to as disciples of Jesus Christ.

Jesus teaches all humans how to listen to the God of love

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Last Sunday, you may remember we heard that short Gospel lesson from St. John that is so widely known, the 16th verse of the third chapter, John 3:16. The verse was, "God so loved the world that God sent God's only Son, and the Son so loved us that he gave himself for our salvation." When we heard those words last Sunday, perhaps they did not bring about within us an understanding of the price that Jesus paid. It sounds so simple in a way, "God so loved the world that God sent Jesus, and Jesus so loved us that he gave himself for us."

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November 21-December 5, 2014

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