[Editor's Note: Bishop Gumbleton delivered this homily in Austria on Sept. 23. He was part of events leading up to the beatification of Franz Jägerstätter. A report of the beatification, which happened Oct. 26, will be available in the next issue of NCR.]
The Peace Pulpit
This evening, I think it's very important for us to try to listen to this word of God, this inspired message that Paul speaks about as something we need to cherish, hear and listen to. We must try to listen within the context of what is happening in our lives.
In that short passage from the letter of St. Paul to Timothy, besides giving Timothy encouragement and trying to urge Timothy to be very faithful to his task as a disciple, St. Paul also makes a remark that I think is very crucial for us. He tells us, "The gospel I labor for and even wear chains for like an evildoer, but the word of God is not chained."
When we first hear the Gospel lesson today, we might not catch the full intensity of that prayer of the disciples to Jesus, "Increase our faith." It seems to me they were probably almost desperate at this point. As I mentioned before, they'd been going with Jesus on this final journey to Jerusalem and they'd been listening to what he has said.
There is one point toward the end of the life of Jesus where, in Matthew's gospel, he's described as going up on the hillside, looking over Jerusalem, and he's very sad. He begins to weep, and he says words something like, "If only you had heard and listened, then you would have peace." Jesus was very discouraged.
Now if we listen carefully to these scripture lessons today, we won't hear extraordinary truths, first about God and then about how we must relate to God. I think that some of us, those of us old enough to have studied the Baltimore Catechism -- and I am sure some of us have -- remember the second or third question in the catechism: Why did God make me? And we know the answer: God made me to know God, to love God and to serve God.
First of all I thank the Knights and Ladies, Junior Knights and Junior Ladies for welcoming me here today and inviting me to celebrate this special Eucharist on the Feast of St. Peter Claver, your patron. It is a great honor to be with you, and I am very thankful that you have invited me to be here with you.
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.
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.