When we begin now to reflect on these scripture lessons this morning, we have to adjust our thinking somewhat in order to be aware of why the Pharisees, the religious leaders, were so shocked and upset because Jesus was eating, having a meal, in the house of Matthew, a tax collector. The Pharisees, these religious leaders, described Matthew, a tax collector, a public sinner and he's eating with other sinners.
The Peace Pulpit
As you've noticed, I'm sure, by the fact that I'm wearing green vestments today, not the white or the red that we've seen over the past 10 or 12 weeks, we have returned to what we call "ordinary time." We finished the celebration of Lent and Easter, Pentecost and then Trinity Sunday and Corpus Christi. So now we begin once more to take up the gospel of Matthew, which we will follow throughout this year.
I'm sure that probably all of us here remember celebrating the Feast of Corpus Christi many times as we grew up and throughout our lives as Catholics. The emphasis always was on adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, recognizing the living presence of Jesus in the bread and the wine that were consecrated at Mass.
We celebrate, as you know, today, the feast of the Holy Trinity, probably the most profound mystery of our faith. It may surprise you, but this doctrine of the Holy Trinity, as we have come to learn it, probably most of us when we studied our catechism, how God is one God in three persons - there's one nature, three persons in God - but that reformulation of this doctrine did not happen until the fourth century at the Council of Nicaea in the year 325. It's the first time the Church officially taught that our God is a God who lives in a community of love, one God in three persons.
What should appear on this page is the homily Bishop Thomas Gumbleton preached on Pentecost Sunday. Unfortunately, a technical glitch means that the homily was not recorded and so no transcript could be made.
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.
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.