Many times we have spoken and heard the Gospel at different times express ideas about the reign of God, the kingdom of heaven. What do we mean by that reign of God, what Jesus spoke about at the very beginning of his public life? "The reign of God is at hand. Change your lives. The reign of God is ready to break forth into human history in its fullness." We can speak about the reign of God as God's dynamic role of saving love over all of creation, over each one of us, over all of humanity, where God's love becomes the dynamic force energizing all of us and all of creation.
The Peace Pulpit
The Peace Pulpit (with audio): Each of us must carry on the work of Jesus, to be that Good Shepherd who knows and loves others. Listen to Bishop Gumbleton's latest homily.
This Gospel that we hear today is really sort of a surprise because if you remember last Sunday, that scene in the upper room eight days after Jesus had risen from the dead and he came back and showed Thomas his side and his hands and so on -- at the end of all of that, in John’s Gospel, he writes, “There were many other signs that Jesus gave in the presence of his disciples, but they’re not recorded in this book. These are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Believe, and you will have life through his name.”
It always amazes me how the Gospel lessons that are assigned as they are for this particular Sunday every year, even though they are there the Sunday after Easter every year, they fit in so well with what we've been talking about all day. It's almost as though we had designed these three lessons for this evening, but they are the teachings for the whole church this weekend. They are very important and they do fit in with what we are talking about today: how to stop violence and build peace.
Editor’s note: This homily was given at an Easter vigil Mass on March 30.
Surely this is the longest liturgy of the Word that we have during our whole church year, and you might think it would be a merciful thing if there were no homily. But the book says that the celebrant is to give a homily, so we have to do something. It's certainly worth it to spend just a few moments reflecting on all that we have heard tonight, but especially on the Gospel lesson, which climaxes everything that has led up to it.
Editor’s note: This homily was given at a Palm Sunday Mass on March 24.
As we were reminded at the beginning of our ceremony this morning, we have been engaged for five weeks in this season of Lent -- the season when we try to undergo a deep conversion of life, a total turning around of our values and our attitudes and our actions. Now, we enter into the final week of Lent when we, perhaps, must try to even intensify our efforts -- at prayer, alms-giving, acts of charity and discipline.
Editor's note: This homily is from a Mass held March 17.
When I stand in this pulpit, it is impossible to miss the extraordinary banner that you have draped across the choir loft in the back of the church. As you leave this morning, or any morning, you, too, must notice those exciting words: "The Spirit is loose and she is wild." When I reflect on all the things that have happened here in St. [Lucie] Parish, I fully understand how that is true. The ministries of charity and mercy and love are so abundant here.
Yesterday, when I had been reflecting on these Scripture lessons over the last few days and was trying to complete my reflections, I was visited by a couple of friends from another diocese nearby. They told me of what had just happened in that diocese, where, like so many other places in our country, parishes are being closed. This particular parish was closed, but the people said, "Well, the bishop can take the building, but he can't destroy our community. We're still a parish family."
These lessons today fit in very well with our retreat. Two of them speak about the need for repentance, for changing our lives, being converted, so we need to listen to them deeply, but it’s important not to misunderstand what God is trying to teach us through this word today.
The Peace Pulpit (with audio): There is much we can learn from Satan's temptation of Jesus in the Gospel. Listen to Bishop Gumbleton's latest homily.