It may seem strange to us, but if you notice, the gospel lesson doesn't say anything about the ascension of Jesus and in fact, when you look at the other gospels, Mark's gospel has no account of the ascension and John's gospel doesn't mention anything about an ascension of Jesus 40 days after Easter. In fact, in John's gospel, it's on Easter Sunday night that Jesus comes back to the disciples and during that visit, he breaths on them and fills them with the Holy Spirit, as we will celebrate next Sunday on the feast of Pentecost. Everything is combined into the one experience of those disciples.
The Peace Pulpit
As we listen to the scripture lessons this morning, I think it will help us to get the full benefit of what God is speaking to us through God's holy word, if we remember the context within which we are reflecting on these scriptures. We get the context from the first lesson this morning, from the Acts of the Apostles. Jesus said to his disciples, "You are going to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, even to the ends of the earth," so it was beginning to happen.
I am very flattered and honored that Fr. Fabian Slominski asked me to celebrate with him this Holy Eucharist this morning as he rejoices, as we heard him proclaim at the beginning, with such sincerity, in the 60 years that God has allowed him to serve as a priest in the Archdiocese of Detroit. I think we ought to acclaim Fr. Slominski at this moment and thank him for those 60 years of service. [Applause.]
When we begin to listen to the scriptures deeply this morning, we must try to put ourselves in the situation of those Jewish people who heard that sermon of St. Peter on that feast of Pentecost. It was the feast that the Jewish people [celebrated] 50 days after Passover. Those who had dispersed to other parts of the world would come back to celebrate the feast at their temple in Jerusalem, so they were there from various parts of the world.
I think this is one of the most beautiful of the gospel stories about Jesus after his resurrection. I think it's one that all of us can quite easily relate to. It's so easy to think of those true disciples walking along Easter Sunday night after all they'd been through Holy Thursday at the Last Supper, and then Good Friday, and so sad and disappointed.
[Editor's Note: There is no homily this week because Bishop Gumbleton is traveling in the Middle East, including Palestine. He will return March 31. Here's a story and photos from his trip.]
By Judith Sudilovsky
Catholic News Service
BETHANY, West Bank -- The small Palm Sunday procession wound up the hill in this Palestinian village, making its way to where residents of Bethany once could cross the street into the Palestinian village of Bethpage.
Bishop Gumbleton is traveling in the Middle East, including Palestine, for several weeks. He will return on March 31st. His plans included being in Jerusalem during the Holy Week Triduum and the Easter Mass of the Resurrection. He will be meeting with religious and civic official during this time.
I would like to express my gratitude for being invited here today to celebrate this Eucharist and to speak this evening. I am also very grateful to all of you. I appreciate very much the opportunity to celebrate the Holy Eucharist in the midst of a community that obviously is a believing and prayerful community. It inspires me very much, and so I thank you for the faith that you manifest here today. I'm also especially pleased that this liturgy includes a scrutiny for those who are about to be received into the church, or to be baptized. It's an honor to be with all of you and to share with you as you continue to grow in your faith and prepare yourself for these sacred celebrations of Holy Saturday night.
At the beginning of our second lesson today, St. Paul exhorts us: "You were once darkness, but now you are light in Jesus, and so behave as children of light and the fruits of light. Your fruits will be kindness, justice, peace and truth in every form." At the end of the passage, Paul says, "Awake, you who sleep. Arise from the dead, that the light of Christ may shine on you." Of course, then through you on our world to transform it.
[Editor's Note: Because of technical difficulties, the first few minutes of this homily were not recorded. We regret this error.]
Is God in our midst or not? Well, recently I had an experience that made me realize, and I hadn't thought about it so clearly before, how desperate is the need for water and what people will do to get water. This past year in El Salvador, the government made a move to privatize water. Can you imagine? Something that every human person has a right to, the government is going to sell or allow people to sell for profit, and of course it'll be at a price that probably most of the poor in that country would not be able to pay.