Obviously, once more as we listen to these Scripture lessons this morning, we become aware and perhaps begin to feel again somewhat of the excitement and the joy that those first disciples felt when Jesus went through death to new life. They found it very difficult to believe this, and I think sometimes we fail to experience the fullness of joy of this Easter feast because we almost take it too much for granted. "Yes, Jesus rose from the dead; let's move on." No. It's so much more important to stop and really try to experience what those first disciples experienced.
The Peace Pulpit
The Peace Pulpit: "We are the presence of Jesus in the midst of the world ... That calls us to change our lives, to follow the way of Jesus."
The Peace Pulpit: "Go where people need to be encouraged and given hope, and bring that joy of the Gospel into our everyday life."
The readings have been long, but of course since this is the beginning of the most sacred and holy week of the year, it's important for us to spend just a few moments at least in reflecting on the deep message that God is proclaiming to us through these readings, through the events that are described. And perhaps we can catch the deepest meaning of all of this if we listen very carefully again to the words of St. Paul addressed to the Christian community at Philippi.
In the Gospel lesson, Jesus reminds us, as he had proclaimed many times before to his disciples, "If you really want to be my disciple, take up your cross and follow me." And if we listen carefully and deeply to the lessons of today for a few moments, I think we will discover in a very deep way what Jesus means by that, and also we will be aware of the challenge it takes truly to follow Jesus. And first of all, I think it's important for us to realize that in what Jesus is to undergo.
Now as I was reflecting on the three lessons today -- the Gospel lesson perhaps most of all, but all three lessons -- I was reminded of the encyclical letter that Pope Francis published, with the first one he wrote as his own encyclical letter at the beginning of his time as being bishop of Rome, and it's called "The Joy of the Gospel."
The Peace Pulpit: "Nothing is more important, Jesus is telling us, than that reconciliation between a brother and sister, and that for all of us to be at peace."
The Peace Pulpit: Be plunged once more into that death of Jesus so that we will rise to new life, and then be inspired to go out and transform the world.
The Peace Pulpit: As we begin to reach out in compassion, we will begin to transform our world into the reign of God. Listen to Bishop Gumbleton's homily.
Now that the candidates have committed themselves to deepen their experience of Jesus and prepare for the special coming of the Holy Spirit into their hearts at confirmation, it's important that they, and all of us, try to listen now deeply to the word of God to try to understand what this word of God means today as we celebrate this ceremony that begins the program of preparation for confirmation for these parish members.