Homilies for May 2020

For May 3, May 10 (Mother’s Day), May 17, Ascension of the Lord, May 24, and Pentecost.

4th Sunday in Easter – May 3, 2020

  Readings: Acts 2:14a, 36–41 • Ps 23:1–6, • 1 Pt 2:20b–25 • Jn 10:1–10
  usccb.org/bible/readings/050320.cfm

“Ninety-eight percent of all priests make the other two percent look bad.” I’ve forgotten where I first heard that quip, but it’s my favorite among the anti-clerical tropes of the past generation. Pope Francis offers similarly flavorful, albeit sometimes vinegary, morsels, e.g., “I want to remind priests that the confessional must not be a torture chamber.” Even within the clergy, we older men have been known to discount the younger as “millennial creampuffs,” and have in turn been discounted by the trendy insult, “Okay, boomer.”

The Lord Jesus himself sets the standard for anti-clericalism — or better, the standard for clerical standards. “Whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate . . . is a thief and a robber,” “All who came before me are thieves and robbers.” The shepherds are judged by Jesus, who will shortly identify himself as the Good Shepherd. The evangelist applies the judgment to the Pharisees, and Jesus may also have had in mind the Zealots who run hither and thither, chasing after false messiahs. Jesus identifies himself as the gate, but tantalizingly omits any explicit mention of his own apostles or their successors and lesser ministers, anyone who might be affirmed as proper shepherds who go through Jesus as the gate.

It’s no surprise, then, that some Christians grow cynical about the clergy. They blame the clergy for the ills of the world or the Church. Just like those sullen priests who bemoan the laity, some laymen speak or write as if the earthly Church would be indistinguishable from the Church Triumphant, were it not for our miserable priests, who instead have made us all feel as if we are the Church Suffering. Far too many of us, both clergy and laity, compete with each other for what we imagine to be the moral high ground. We speak very much like the pompous Pharisee of Jesus’s parable: “I may be a sinner, Lord, but at least I’m not that kind of sinner.” And thus we betray the Gospel of forgiveness for a brief flush of self-righteousness.

But our Lord’s purpose is not the mutual recrimination among clergy and laity. Jesus can be stern about the care for the sheep because their life — abundant life, no less! — is his primary concern: “Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will go in and come out and find pasture.” While the analogy of the sheepfold suggests to us an ordered Church, with recognizable shepherds going through the gate, from Jesus’s perspective we are all sheep, all in need of salvation. Even the priests, especially the priests, depend upon the righteousness that comes from Christ, and not on any “self-absorbed, Promethean neo-Pelagianism.” To the extent we are sheep, we dare not mimic Jesus’s judgment on shepherds.

Moreover, today’s other readings also bear witness to good shepherding, the ministry of St. Peter and the apostles, themselves the Church’s foremost clergymen. Reversing his earlier denial, Peter now boldly proclaims Christ to the Jewish pilgrims gathered for Pentecost. He invites them to “repent and be baptized . . . receive the gift of the Holy Spirit,” recognizable fruits of the ministry of others. When Peter contrasts the crowd with “this corrupt generation,” he speaks not so much of the moral or spiritual corruption of the Jewish clergy as he does of our bodily corruption. Standing on the tomb of King David, he contrasts David’s bodily death with Jesus’s bodily resurrection, and invites everyone to be saved in him. For all Peter’s failures, he is now an image and instrument of the Good Shepherd, by which three thousand sheep will find salvation in one day.

Saint Peter makes a second appearance also as the author of today’s epistle. He exhorts us not to compete with one other for worldly reputation, but instead to count it as a grace “when you suffer for doing what is good.” We go through Jesus as our gate whenever we imitate him in suffering lovingly for others. For Jesus, too, returned no insult for insult, but bore our sins that we might live in righteousness. Though we retain an obligation to protect weak sheep from the wolves, none of us have standing to posture against each other’s inadequacies, for we are all formerly stray sheep now returned to our Shepherd.

Laymen who loudly denounce the failures of the clergy might imagine themselves heroic advocates and protectors of the sheep, but if they posture thus, they are then assuming some of the responsibilities of the shepherds, and will be judged by the standards Jesus sets. In the end, they are of no more use than the clergy who loudly denounce the inadequacies of the laity. Even when they’re right, they’re wrong, for they are trying to get to the flock not through Jesus, the gate, but around another way, like thieves and robbers.

Insofar as we are all sheep in the fold for which Jesus is the gate, we are all in this together, sharing responsibility for each other’s welfare — the one defense of the sheep, that they stay with the flock. Insofar as some of us are priests, shepherds in service of the Good Shepherd, then we have the responsibility of speaking not in our own voice but only with the voice of Jesus, and the sheep have the responsibility to recognize his voice in ours, and follow us, so that the shepherds are saved by the saving of the sheep. Either way, Jesus is our gate, our only gate, to the flock and to salvation.

5th Sunday in Easter – May 10, 2020

  Readings: Acts 6:1–7 • Ps 33:1–2, 4–5, 18–19 • 1 Pt 2:4–9 • Jn 14:1–12
  usccb.org/bible/readings/051020.cfm

Note: Mother’s Day notes are in parentheses.

“You got this.” In the Gospels we more often hear Jesus reprove his disciples than confirm them, but as Jesus begins his long farewell address, he assures them they are more capable than they recognize: “Do not let your hearts be troubled . . . where I am going, you know the way.” But following his Last Supper and facing imminent crucifixion, Jesus wants his disciples to be heartened, encouraged, as he contemplates the perfection of his work: The covenantal foundation of a Church, a communion of saints in imitation of the communion of the Trinity.

Perhaps Jesus’s confidence baffled his first disciples almost as much as it baffles our own generation. We have been taught skepticism of the “institutional Church,” suspicion of wonder and awe, renunciation of tradition for authenticity. Like Philip, we cannot believe that our dwelling place is so readily available to us, that the divine life begins for us in such an immediate and immanent way as our shared life with Jesus and his other disciples.

But the rest of the New Testament bears witness to the Church as the fruit of Jesus’s sacrifice, an edifice erected on Christ as the cornerstone. (1) In the epistle we read, “Let yourselves be built into a spiritual house,” and Peter elaborates on its edification. The Church is to be a “holy priesthood,” sharing in the spiritually sacrificial office of Jesus as our High Priest, especially by our prayers, penance, worship, and in every sacrament we receive.

The Church shares also in Christ’s prophetic office, “announcing the praises” of him who called us out of darkness. When we recite the Creed, when we demonstrate our trust by prayer, when we learn what Jesus has taught and promised and when we thus instruct others, we expand our work of proclamation. (2)

And our priesthood is also a royal priesthood. Like all men and women, we have princely responsibilities, exercising dominion over the world. The Church, moreover, is charged especially with making disciples of all nations, and so enjoys a transcendent dignity and authority commensurate with her responsibility for the salvation of mankind. But Christian dominion is not a matter of dominating; rather, Christian lordship follows the pattern of our Lord, who gave his life in service and love.

Saint Luke records one anecdote in the early history of the Church as she grows into these magnificent offices.(3) As those first Christians fed the neediest in the Church, widows of one language group complained that they were neglected in favor of another language group. The Church, however, had grown beyond the ability of the twelve apostles to oversee all the prayer, teaching, and administration of aid. So they establish the first differentiation of Christian ministry: They ordain seven men to what is now understood as the rank of deacon, for the sake of food distribution, while reserving to their own apostolic office the work of prayer and “the ministry of the word.” Luke tells us that thus “the word of God continued to spread, and the number of disciples increased.”

Jesus wants you to be heartened as his original disciples. He says, “Believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves.” And astonishingly, you “will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these!” (4) Our work in this world will always be incomplete, and tainted with sin and selfishness as it was for the early Church squabbling over food distribution, but from Jesus’s perspective it’s all of one peace: the Church on earth maturing into the heavenly communion of the saints.

And the works are awesome indeed!

  • The Church’s teaching competed well with the world’s philosophers, and she exercised good judgment in preserving and purifying the wisdom and vision of ancient civilization.
  • The Church founded modern learning and science, in the university and in what was then called “natural philosophy.”
  • The Church invented hospitals and charities as the standard for social decency.
  • The Church inspired great art, music, and literature — all the classics of the Western hemisphere.
  • The Church spread the radical notion that women and children — not just men — are fully human, equally “heirs in grace,” a novelty even in Judaism. (5)
  • The Church spread the equally radical notion that all human beings, not just the aristocracy, enjoy rights based simply on their humanity — “Human rights, human dignity.”
  • The Church from the time of the Roman Empire, through the age of barbarians, through the brutal wars of European nation-states, and in our own age of global empires, the Church continues to press a vision of international cooperation and peace — a vision she herself has to live as a worldwide institution. (6)

The Church sustains the redemptive and salvific work of her Lord, now advancing to every corner of the world, and despite the tribulation she has endured and the greater tribulation to come, she steps forward in confidence out of the darkness and into the light of Christ.

 

Additional remarks for those who wish elaboration on Mother’s Day:

  1. The extraordinary graces given to Mary, Mother of the Church, anticipate the Lord’s intent for his Church.
  2. To know Christ so intimately was one of those extraordinary graces.
  3. A mother’s most sincere desire is for the healthy maturation of her children.
  4. A mother takes great joy in the achievements of her children.
  5. As Mary is the mother of the Redeemer, so the Church becomes the mother of all the redeemed of humanity.
  6. What mother is not eager to see her children live in peace with each other?

6th Sunday in Easter – May 17, 2020

  Readings: Acts 8:5–8, 14–17 • Ps 66:1–7, 16, 20 • 1 Pt 3:15–18 • Jn 14:15–21
  usccb.org/bible/readings/051720.cfm

After the dear old woman’s funeral, I hosted mourners at the parish hall for a funeral repast. I sat at table with some young adults, including the woman’s grandson, who had left the Catholic Church for an evangelical Christian community. As we ate, the young man grew challenged me, peppering me with Bible quotations purporting to disprove the Catholic faith. But I’d been a decent seminary student, knew the Bible well enough, and easily and calmly deflected his challenges.

As the meal ended, the man protested, “Sir, sir, one last question: What makes you priests think you have authority to hear confessions?” I replied succinctly, “Well, in John chapter 20, Jesus breathes on the gathered apostles and says, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven; whose sins you retain are retained.’”

The man looked perplexed, but only momentarily. After a few seconds, he retorted, “Jesus would never say anything like that!”

The story amuses me, but it’s also sad. It’s not enough to know Jesus — er, think you know Jesus — apart from the gift of the Spirit. In today’s excerpt from the Book of Acts, the early Church had to rectify such a situation in Samaria, where new believers had been baptized in the name of Jesus, but not the Spirit. The apostles conferred on them the gift of the Spirit through the imposition of hands. This story is often cited by Christians trying to understand the importance of the gift of the Spirit beyond mere baptism or a limited knowledge of Jesus.

Truth is, you can’t know Jesus rightly apart from the Spirit. They are distinct divine Persons, but with the Father they are the one God and never separate from each other. People may know Jesus in some bare historical way, or in a dry biblical manner like the young man firing quotes at me like bullets. But the real Jesus never intended our shared life with him to stop at the limits of the Bible: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth.” Our shared life with Jesus continues in the Church because the Spirit has been given to her.

But who is this Spirit? If you rely solely on portrayals on screen or in social media, the Holy Spirit is some strange force that makes people jump up and down or clap their hands when they worship, and occasionally causes them to work a miracle of healing. But while the Bible loosely associates the gift of the Spirit with fervor or piety in worship, this is not the best way to understand the Spirit.

Consider instead Jesus’s words about the Spirit. Today Jesus calls him “Advocate.” In the original language, he could mean a defense attorney, someone to defend you in court. Perhaps Jesus anticipates Judgment Day, when Satan or other enemies accuse you before God’s throne, and the Holy Spirit will be your defense attorney, citing the mercy of Jesus in your favor.

But an advocate can also be someone who appeals for you — like a social security or welfare advocate who works the system to make sure you get your maximum benefits, or a health advocate who talks to the doctors, hospitals, insurance companies to make sure you get the medical care you need. Like a divine spokesman, the Holy Spirit prays for you constantly. Even when you pray badly, the Holy Spirit speaks unfailingly to the Father on your behalf.

Still further, an advocate can be someone who encourages — like the people on the sidelines at a marathon, who cheer on the runners, “You’re doing great,” or physical trainers in the gym, “Come on, you can do it, keep up the effort.” The Holy Spirit encourages you as a follower of Jesus: “You can know Jesus, you can be faithful to him, you can be like Jesus.”

I suspect the Lord Jesus meant all of the above. The Holy Spirit is your Advocate: your defense attorney on Judgment Day, praying to the Father that you receive from him all the favors you need, encouraging you and strengthening you to go the distance, persevering for your entire life in obedience and love.

So as Peter exhorts in his epistle, do not fear anyone who might defame you or malign you. Do not fear that you will be left abandoned as an orphan, Do not even fear your own failure, for Christ already suffered for your sins, and now lives in the Spirit. He promises you life in that same Spirit, and with the Spirit a shared life with Jesus himself and with his heavenly Father.

Instead, feel the strength of God, and do not settle for the minimum: Go for the maximum, shoot for the moon, hope for Heaven. In your strength, stand ready to help others, give them an account of the hope in you — not with arrogance or condescension or anxiety, for these are the marks of weakness, but with gentleness and compassion, as one who is confident in the Spirit. Stand ready to defend others, stand ready to help, stand ready to encourage, as the Spirit is promised to defend, help, and encourage you.

Ascension of the Lord – May 21 (or 24), 2020

  Readings: Acts 1:1–11 • Ps 47:2–3, 6–9 • Eph 1:17–23 • Mt 28:16–20
  usccb.org/bible/readings/052420-ascension.cfm

Note: An alternate sample homily, for the seventh Sunday
in Ordinary Time, is further below.

Peekaboo! It’s a fun game mothers and other family members play with their infants of a certain age. But according to cognitive development experts, the game evolved to dovetail with the maturation of infants in object permanence, their awareness that people and things continue to exist even when they are no longer seen, heard, smelled, etc. For infants at the right stage of cognitive development, peekaboo is an adventurous romp through the surprise and expectation of the reappearance of, say, mother’s face.

The New Testament’s post-resurrection stories bear abundant witness to the equivalent of cognitive disability among Jesus’s disciples. Jesus is with them, and then not — peekaboo! Jesus walked with the disciples toward Emmaus, but “their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.” The Lord’s instruction to Mary, “do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended” might also imply a baffling disability.

The accounts of the Lord’s ascension only intensify the contrast between revelation and an inability to apprehend it. “They saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.” Huh? “He presented himself alive . . . by many proofs . . . speaking about the kingdom,” but “It is not for you to know the times or seasons.” Jesus expects them to know, and also not to know. At least to some extent, it’s a matter of timing: At his Last Supper, Jesus advised his disciples, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now,” and the need for patience continues past the ascension, as “he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for ‘the promise of the Father.’”

Perhaps the Lord’s ascension is a cosmic game of peekaboo. We who are still on the way, so to speak, are as yet simply incapable of apprehending the divine glory toward which we are aimed. As Immanuel Kant might hasten to observe, we who are still constrained by the limits of space and time, the un-transfigured body, are simply not going to grasp the nominal world that transcends such limits. And yet, as with infants and their mother, it remains important for us to know that he who departed from us is nevertheless still with us. We must somehow be witnesses to the one who has been taken from our sight. We must trust that “This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.” Peekaboo, indeed — divine peekaboo!

But the spiritual cognate to object permanence applies not only to the Lord Jesus, and his real presence among us, but to us as well. He who assumed our human nature when he came down from heaven did not shed it when he ascended; on the contrary, the tomb was empty because his human body and human soul were both retained by the second divine Person after his resurrection, and if he ascended to heaven even in his own body, then our human nature has gone to heaven with him.

And if Jesus can take our humanity with him, then divinization, which seems impossible to our nature, is no longer impossible. Our destiny is not to disappear into a puff of nothingness, nor be subsumed into a de-personalized nirvana, nor undergo butterfly-like metamorphosis into something of an apparently different nature, leaving behind our bodies as empty shells. Instead, our destiny is to be ourselves, body and soul, maybe even more ourselves than we now are, transfigured by divine glory, in a way we cannot now understand.

So there’s a way in which the Lord’s ascension is not only an opportunity for us to learn how he is with us in every time and place, no matter how impossible it may seem to human nature. It’s also an opportunity for us to learn that we are with him on the way to glory, no matter how imperfect or incomplete we may seem to ourselves. Which is to say, we are members of his body, the Church, of which he is the head, and since he is already enthroned in heaven, we belong there with him.

Perhaps we cannot now understand, but through revelation and faith we can nevertheless know “the hope that belongs to his call.” The ascension is our first peek into the glory he wins for us.

7th Sunday in Easter – May 24, 2020

  Readings: Acts 1:12–14 • Ps 27:1, 4, 7–8 • 1 Pt 4:13–16 • Jn 4:11–16
  usccb.org/bible/readings/052420-day.cfm

Note: An alternate sample homily, for the Ascension of the Lord
(which may be celebrated on this date), is above.

I’m a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, in which there’s a magic ring representing the world’s desire for power and domination over others. In Tolkien’s epic back-story, the ring has evoked power-lust from all who see it and has corrupted all who touched it. Then in one marvelous scene, the humble gardener Sam, who has accidentally come to possess the ring, contritely surrenders it to his friend, who has demanded that the ring be returned.

I knew the story from the books, so when I saw the film version in the theater, and that scene arrived, I wanted to shout to other theatergoers, “Wait! Stop the film! People, did you see that? Do you realize what a momentous event this is in the story? At long last someone has voluntarily, freely, humbly, lovingly surrendered the ultimate power of domination, all for friendship’s sake! The world created by Tolkien has forever changed!”

I feel something similar when I read Jesus’s “high priestly prayer,” of which we get the beginning for today’s Gospel. “The hour has come . . . I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do . . . now glorify me.” After the countless years of human history filled with failure, Jesus comes. So subtly, almost surreptitiously, we slip into the denouement of mankind’s story: At last, a man does what man was meant to do, and lives his entire life, up to the point of death, in loving obedience to God. Jesus in his high priestly prayer freely and wholeheartedly dedicates consecrates himself to the completion of the work, and at the end of the prayer his Passion begins.

But this moment goes even deeper — or if you prefer, even higher: Jesus prays. He prays to the Father. It may seem like a small thing, but it reveals mysteries beyond the reach of the world’s philosophies. We see not only that God is the shared life of Father, Son, and Spirit, but we also catch a glimpse of the relation between the Father and the Son: “Now they know that everything you gave me is from you . . . they have believed that you sent me . . . everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine.” The Father is the originator of all that is transpiring and is the sender of the Son. Jesus’s posture in prayer, depending upon and receiving from God according to his humanity, does not obscure but instead reveals something of his divine nature. For even as the divine Son he receives everything from the Father, and also returns it to the Father.

And since that prayerful posture is divine, it must necessarily be eternal. For those of us still bound up in time, that means it continues. The Lord Jesus has taken his seat “at the right hand of the Father,” and he continues to intercede for his people. According to his priestly office, Jesus is the mediator between God and mankind, and makes holy those who have been entrusted to his care. Jesus’s priestly office is perfected by his sacrifice but sustained in his intercession.

Nor does the priestly work of Jesus stop with Jesus. As we continue past the gospels into the rest of the New Testament, we discover followers of Jesus assuming those priestly responsibilities: fasting, consecrating, mediating, interceding, sacrificing, and so on. After Jesus’s ascension, his disciples return to Jerusalem, and they “devoted themselves with one accord to prayer.” They adopt the same prayerful posture before God as the Son does before the Father, not because the Son’s prayer was inadequate, but because he wishes his followers to share in his divine life. Those who assume the priestly work of prayer are not only the surviving apostles, but also “some women” and Mary his mother, along with other family members.

Saint Peter, too, can exhort Christians to sustain the sacrificial work of Jesus — again, not because Jesus’s sacrifice was by itself flawed, but because he wishes the sacrifice to be made complete by the participation of his body, the Church. “Rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ.” The Church up to the present day continues the priestly ministry of Jesus, especially by making people holy through prayer and worship, and by our share in the sacrifice of his Cross.

Solemnity of Pentecost – May 31, 2020

  Readings: Acts 2:1–11 • Ps 104:1, 24, 29–31, 34 • 1 Cor 12:3b–7, 12–13 • Jn 20:19–23
  usccb.org/bible/readings/053120-day.cfm

“The centripetal force between two masses is proportional to their product and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them.” The words may sound complicated, but you don’t need to be a genius to understand: It’s simply the law of gravity, as formulated by Sir Isaac Newton, who in cartoonish legend was inspired when an apple fell from his tree. Those of us with a technical education can work out the calculations, but the 12-year-old boys skateboarding in the parking lot of my church understand gravity through their own bones and muscles in way I never will. I know about gravity, but those boys simply know gravity.

The same for knowing the Holy Spirit. We can have academic knowledge about the Spirit: “The Holy Spirit is the third divine Person, who processes by spiration from the opposed relations of paternity and filiation and completes the perichoresis of the trinitarian communion.” But I doubt that helps many people.

We can also have experiential knowledge of the fruits and gifts of the Spirit as catalogued, say, by today’s liturgical sequence: enlightenment of the soul, consolation of the suffering, refreshment and rest from labor, renewed strength, enriched prayer, healing of wounds. Each of these and more might be reckoned as a symptom of the movement of the Spirit.

But what about more intimate personal knowledge? Our knowledge of persons emerges from seeing their faces, hearing their voices, other sensory observations. Where is the visible manifestation of the Holy Spirit, that we may know him more directly?

Saint Paul lists some of the gifts of the Spirit, but then observes they come from “the same Spirit, [for] the same Lord . . . in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.” Despite the plurality of gifts, the Spirit drives them toward a unity in the Body of Christ, which is the Church. Similarly in Acts: It is no coincidence how frequently Luke tells us of the first Christians, “they were all in one place together.”

We can readily concede that not everything that happens in the life of the Church is of the Holy Spirit, but still there is an organic unity in her shared life, akin to the organic unity of the body, which is animated by the Spirit. In that unity, shared life, the communion of Christ and his Church, we come to know the Person of the Holy Spirit.

And yet there is still more. “The manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.” Paul wrote there of the exercise of spiritual gifts, calling us to attend not so much to the phenomenon as to its purpose. And the lesson holds even when we consider the big picture. Just as the sending of the Son reaches its perfection on the cross on Good Friday, when the wounded Christ breathes his last, so the sending of the Spirit begins on Easter Sunday, when the risen Jesus displays his wounds and breathes on his disciples, imparting to them the power to remedy the failures of the world.

And fifty days later, the consequences of the cross for the world are revealed. The first sign after Jesus’s death was the tearing the of temple veil — I like to imagine it blown outward as the Holy Spirit rushes out of the sanctuary like a great wind. Likewise on Pentecost, “there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind . . . there appeared to them tongues as of fire . . . they were all filled with the Holy Spirit” as they began to proclaim to all the nations the acts of God.

To remedy sin, to proclaim God’s works: The salvation of the world by its incorporation into the Church has begun. The Father’s purpose in sending the Spirit parallels his purpose in sending the Son. We can know the Person of the Holy Spirit also in this mission of Christ and his Church.

So do not fret if you can’t recite a learned treatise on how the one God can be three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It’s nice to be able to do so, but this is not the measure of your life in the Spirit. Nor should you fret if you don’t have whatever fashionable spiritual gifts for which you may have some desire. Speaking in tongues may be the most famously contested of such gifts, but folks have also been known to aspire to receiving prophetic messages, or profound peace, or the power to work wonders, or some such. They are not the measures of your life in the Spirit, but are instead given to benefit the shared life of the Church or her salvific work in the world — the communion and mission of the Church.

And that is how you can know and live in the Spirit. Do you share in the communion of the Church? That is, do you know and love and support your brothers and sisters in Christ? Do you build up the community and the institution? Do you receive the sacraments, believe the teaching, trust the promises, and hear the pastors?

And do you labor for the mission of the Church? Do you befriend your neighbors, attend to those who suffer, support the poor? Do you know your faith well enough to give an account of it to others? Do you set an example of obedience and joy and trust?

Aspire to be like those skateboarders. It’s fine if you also know about the Spirit, and even better if you exercise the gifts he has given you for the benefit of others. But above all, get to know the Spirit himself, in your body and soul, by living wholeheartedly the communion and mission, and shared life and labor of Christ and his Church.

Fr. David Poecking About Fr. David Poecking

Fr. David Poecking began adult life as a math and physics teacher, but a childhood encounter with the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien ultimately led him to the Catholic Church and to the priesthood. He now serves as pastor of Archangel Gabriel Parish in the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Comments

  1. Avatar Maggie Shea says:

    Lay lady here. And I won’t even say where I stopped reading. Want you preachers to know if you can’t keep up your self image as sheep, you are probably damned. Think you know the right way? I pray for the shepherds. They can lead us. Don’t know who they are, but I know it’s not me.

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