In this homily from the Sixth Sunday of Easter, Bishop Thomas Gumbleton talks about an early controversy in the church and how Paul confronted Peter. It's a good lesson for us today, Gumbleton says. "We get a little shocked, I think, when we hear about dissension within our church today, but it was there from the beginning, and do you know why? It's because Jesus never gave a plan." A full transcript of the homily follows.
The Peace Pulpit
As I announced before we began our celebration this morning, we will welcome two new members into our parish family. We'll be celebrating the sacrament of baptism, so it's a good moment, I think, not only for them to review what it means to become a disciple of Jesus, baptized into his life, but it's an important time for every one of us to reflect on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, because that is what happens when we are baptized or make our profession of faith. We commit ourselves to follow Jesus Christ, to be one of his disciples, the community of disciples, which he formed and left to carry on his work after he was gone.
Bishop Gumbleton preached this homily to the Confirmation class at St. Mark's Parish in Warren, Mich.
When I am a confirmed Christian, it's not for a few moments or an hour or so, it's the rest of my life. So that's what you're doing this morning -- you're saying yes to Jesus. You're saying, "Yes, I want to be his disciple and follow him, live according to his ways, to his example; to listen to his words, take them in and act on them." That's what it means when you say, "Yes, I want to be confirmed."
This is the homily for the Confirmation class at St. Constance Parish in Taylor Mich.
This is a moment that is very, very important for each one of you. It's a moment when the spirit of Jesus enters into your heart, into your spirit, in a very deep and special way, so this is a moment that can really change your life. So it's important, not only that Father Leo and your teachers feel you're ready, but it's very important that you feel you're ready for this sacrament, and what's even more important than that, that you really want to be confirmed.
A forgiving, a reconciling community
I think most of us are very quick to think of Thomas as the doubting one, and yet if we think about what happened as recorded in this gospel lesson, it's perhaps the other disciples who were more doubters than Thomas, because you can almost imagine Thomas saying to himself, "Look, they're telling me Jesus is alive, he's risen from the dead. They've known this for a whole week, yet here they are still in this room, hiding, afraid, and Jesus had said to them, 'As God sends me, I send you.' Why haven't they gone?" So maybe Thomas is the one who shows us the way of faith because immediately as he sees Jesus, he falls down, "You are my Lord and my God," and then it's after this that the disciples evidently begin to really hear what Jesus has said.
On the night when the church assigns nine readings for the liturgy of the word, it might seem extreme for me to add one more, but I really think that in order to get the full sense of what is being spoken to us tonight through God's word, it's important to listen to the very beginning verses of the letter to the Hebrews: "God has spoken in the past to our ancestors, through the prophets, in many different ways, although never completely. But in our times, God has spoken definitively to us through God's son Jesus. Jesus is the radiance of God's glory and bears the stamp of God's hidden being."
Editor's Note: If you are looking for a Good Friday meditation starter, you can't go wrong with Bishop Thomas Gumbleton's reflection on the Passion of Christ:
In John's gospel, Jesus does that very thing. Dramatically, he takes off his outer garment, puts a towel around himself, and then goes before each disciple and like a slave, Jesus washes their feet. What an extraordinary example, and yet how many of us have really listened to these words, listened to what Jesus does and watched him in action so that we can follow?
Read the full reflection: Jesus teaches us how to die, not how to kill
Certainly with the reading of the Passion of our Lord as we've just done in this Gospel of St. Luke, there are very, very many things for us to reflect upon. I think that we really ought to do what is proclaimed to us by the prophet in our first lesson, where the prophet says, "God has taught me so I speak as God's disciple. Morning after morning, God wakes me up to hear, to listen like a disciple. God has opened my ears."
To reflect on today's reading, I think it's very helpful if we remind ourselves of last Sunday's reading, because what we are hearing today is really a continuation of what God proclaimed to us last week in an attempt to help us to know more deeply who God is and how God relates to us, and how we relate to one another.
To delve deeply into the scripture lessons today, to hear them deep within our hearts, I think it's very important and really the key to understanding these lessons, to listen very carefully to that very first sentence that St. Paul proclaims in our second lesson: "Brothers and sisters, whoever is in Christ is a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold, new things have come."