As a kind of background or context within which to reflect on these scriptures today, I thought it might be important to share with you one other part from the sacred scriptures. This is a passage from the first letter that Paul wrote to the church of Corinth. It's in the very first chapter. Paul is speaking about what we might call the folly, the foolishness of the cross.
The Peace Pulpit
As you know, during this Eucharist we will be baptizing a member into this parish community. So it is important as we reflect on the scriptures this morning to put our reflection in the context of welcoming a new member into our community. Welcoming a youngster, an infant. As we began that celebration of baptism at the beginning of Mass, all of us said Yes, we will accept the responsibility of helping to raise this child according to the way of Jesus. This is a very important and serious responsibility that we should not take lightly.
This third part of our instruction from sacred scripture today continues our reading of the Holy Gospel according to Luke. Again, I remind you that a few Sundays ago, we began the part of Luke's Gospel where he describes Jesus beginning his final journey to Jerusalem. Along the way then, on the last few Sundays, we've heard of Jesus preaching and teaching, working miracles. Now we come to a point where we discover how difficult this journey is for Jesus.
First of all, just a very a very brief word about the book of Ecclesiastes that I described at the beginning as a book where we don’t find a whole lot of hope. It is a book that, in fact, there was real discussion in the early church whether it should even be included in the planning of the sacred scripture.
Editor's Note: There is no printed transcript of the homily from Bishop Gumbleton because we did not receive a usable recording of the homily. The following is a telephone conversation between Bishop Gumbleton and Tom Fox about the readings for July 22. When we have transcripts and audio files of Bishop Gumbleton's talks, we will post them to NCRcafe.org.
Back in September 2001 after that terrible act of terrorism that took place in New York City, Pope John Paul II began to reflect on that incident and others like it in other parts of the world. And over the next couple of months, he began to put together his Peace Day statement for January 1, 2002. In that Peace Day statement he tells us or rather asks a very profound question, one which we continue to ask: "How can a world in which the power of evil seems once again to have the upper hand be transformed into a world in which the noblest aspirations of the human heart will triumph, a world in which true peace will prevail?" And further on he says, "I have often paused to reflect on this persistent question. How do we restore the moral and social order subjected to such horrific violence?"
As I mentioned before, I’ve very, very happy to be able to celebrate this Feast of Pentecost, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all of us today, and I’m very impressed with how many are wearing red -- the sign of the tongues of fire that came down upon the first disciples. So thank you for inviting me to be here and especially for confirming some of the people from the community. It’s very important, though, that we first of all have the candidates presented.
[The candidates for confirmation are presented to Bishop Gumbleton and he addresses them about the significance of confirmation being a commitment to follow Jesus.]
We listen, then, to the Scriptures today and they help us in a very special way -- because this is the Feast of Pentecost -- to understand very clearly, deeply, what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. Perhaps you noticed, and if you did maybe you were a bit confused by it -- in the first lesson today, when does St. Luke say the Holy Spirit came? Fifty days after Easter, right? Pentecost. John’s Gospel -- did you listen? Easter Sunday night. Jesus came to the disciples, breathed on them and gave them the Holy Spirit. Well, when did it happen? Was it Easter Sunday or was it 50 days later?
Fr. Eckard I am very pleased to be here today to celebrate with you and the people of St. Maximilian Parish, this Sunday Eucharist. I experienced a great friendliness and joyfulness as I came into the church this morning and so I am very, very happy to be here and I thank you for inviting me. And especially I thank you at this point for presenting these young men and women for the sacrament of Confirmation.
Note From the Editor:
We don't have a new homily from Bishop Gumbleton for you today. Instead, we dipped into our archives for a recording of a homily from a few weeks ago. You may have seen the text of Bishop Gumbleton's homily delivered at his former parish, St. Leo's in Detroit, for the Easter Vigil, April 7. Today you can listen to the bishop read the Gospel, Luke 24:1-12, and then preach.
The scriptures lessons today are very appropriate for what we are celebrating, the Sacrament of Confirmation. Before we proceed with the ceremony, it's important that we take a few moments to reflect on what really happens in this sacrament, what these scripture lessons are saying to us about it today.