Jesus challenged [the disciples]: “Now that you recognize me as the Christ, the Son of the living God, I invite you, take up my cross and follow me.” That was the challenge given to all of us, to recognize Jesus as the Son of God and then to follow him. Then last Sunday, the Gospel reminded us of how following Jesus requires dramatic changes in our lives. “The Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head. The birds of the air have their nests and foxes have the hole where they live, but the Son of Man has nothing. If you follow me, you give up your security and wealth.” We choose to have what we need, but not excess.
The Peace Pulpit
I hope we recall last Sunday’s gospel because it was a very important turning point in the life of Jesus. Remember where Jesus had asked the disciples, “Who do people say I am?” and they said Elijah or one of the prophets, John the Baptist, and he said, “But who do you say I am?” Then Peter spoke up for all of them and said, “You are the Christ, the son of the living God,” and it was then that Jesus, as we heard in today’s gospel, set his face toward Jerusalem where he knew he would be handed over to his enemies, tortured, murdered, and then rise from the dead. As he set out then for Jerusalem, he told all of them who wanted to, “Follow me.” That’s the invitation that is given to us today -- follow Jesus, be one of his disciples.
As we listen to the gospel lesson today, we might not at first reflect on how extraordinary this particular event is in the life of Jesus. We’ve heard this description of this incident many times throughout our lives and so it might seem kind of routine, but in fact, this was a very important turning point in the life of Jesus and of his disciples. We get an indication of this because the first thing Luke tells us is that Jesus had been alone, praying, and undoubtedly he had been praying about what his call was, what his mission was, and how he fit in to human history, who he really is.
[Editor's Note: Following is the homily Bishop Thomas Gumbleton preached on May 20, the feast day of St. Franz Jägerstätter, in Jägerstätter's hometown of St. Sankt Radegund, Austria. A transcript for the bishops Sunday homily was not available. We offer this a substitute.]
This evening, on the feast day of Blessed Franz Jägerstätter, I am very honored and feel blessed indeed, that you have asked me to celebrate this Eucharist, to be with you on this extraordinary occasion, to be with Franziska, Franz's faithful wife, loving, totally committed spouse, and with Franz's family and of course, with the parish family. It is truly an honor. And I also thank you for asking me to reflect with you and to listen carefully to the readings this evening and to do that in the context of the life of Franz Jägerstätter, to draw from these readings what he obviously drew from them that made him so committed to the way of Jesus, even to the point of death.
I’m sure many of you remember, as I do, the Feast of Corpus Christi as we have celebrated over the years, with processions of the Blessed Sacrament carried out into the streets, stopping at two or three different altars and having benediction with the monstrance raised and blessing the people with it. We were trying to show our belief in the real presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and that’s a very important part of the teaching about the Holy Eucharist, that Jesus really is truly present in his humanness and in his divinity, in the bread and wine that becomes the body and blood of Christ.
As we begin our reflection on the scriptures today, I think it’s important to make a couple of remarks about the feast that we are celebrating, the Feast of the Holy Trinity. This is really a very unusual feast in the church year, in the liturgical year. If you take the time to notice, you will realize that this feast is a feast where we celebrate a doctrine, a defined teaching of the church. It’s the only feast in the whole church calendar where this happens and I think you can readily notice this or recall this.
This feast of Pentecost is a feast when we are called to experience great joy, excitement and enthusiasm. We're reminded on this feast of what St. Paul said to the church at Rome: "The love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us. We are infused, filled with the very love of God because the spirit of God has been poured into our hearts." That's what we celebrate today. This is a day for great celebration, and yet we are living at a time when, for many reasons, I think we don't experience that great joy.
I’m sure that all of us have seen stained-glass windows perhaps, or holy cards in which we are given a picture of what St. Luke described in the first lesson today -- the disciples all crowding around and Jesus going up slowly and disappearing into the heavens. We remember that so vividly because St. Luke is such a good storyteller. He makes everything so vivid and so clear. We have most of our images about Jesus at the time of his birth from St. Luke’s gospel, and we remember all of those very easily also. We remember the times in Luke’s gospel where he describes Jesus in such human ways -- weeping, being with friends whom he loved, and so on.
In this homily from the Sixth Sunday of Easter, Bishop Thomas Gumbleton talks about an early controversy in the church and how Paul confronted Peter. It's a good lesson for us today, Gumbleton says. "We get a little shocked, I think, when we hear about dissension within our church today, but it was there from the beginning, and do you know why? It's because Jesus never gave a plan." A full transcript of the homily follows.
As I announced before we began our celebration this morning, we will welcome two new members into our parish family. We'll be celebrating the sacrament of baptism, so it's a good moment, I think, not only for them to review what it means to become a disciple of Jesus, baptized into his life, but it's an important time for every one of us to reflect on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, because that is what happens when we are baptized or make our profession of faith. We commit ourselves to follow Jesus Christ, to be one of his disciples, the community of disciples, which he formed and left to carry on his work after he was gone.