6th Sunday of Easter, Year C – Homily

6th Sunday of Easter, Year C
Acts 15:1-2, 22-29
Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8 (4)
Revelation 21:10-14a, 22-23
John 14:23-29
May 22, 2022

Some of the people had been upset by teachings they heard. It has disturbed their peace of mind.  This is not what Jesus desires for his people.

Rather, Jesus says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid” as He offers the disciples peace. 

What has disturbed the peace of the people in the first reading?

There were some preachers who were telling the Gentile converts, “Unless you are circumcised according to the Mosaic practice, you cannot be saved.” 

This caused “dissension and debate.”  This is not a trivial issue.  Circumcision was how people became Jewish.  However, it is not how we become Christian.  Our lives as Christians begin with Baptism.

Because this was no little issue, it was decided that Paul and some others “should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders about this question.”  There was much discussion about this.  After dialogue, they decided with “one accord” that it was not necessary for the Gentile converts to be circumcised.  This was not simply a human decision for as they say, “It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us.” 

Yes, our Catholic Church has a hierarchal structure but it is not a human monarchy.  We pray that those in authority engage in genuine dialogue but most of all rely on the Holy Spirit to guide them. 

The Holy Spirit does not act on its own.  Just as the words of Jesus are not his own but from the Father who sent him, so too is the Holy Spirit sent by the Father in Jesus’ name.  The Holy Spirit comes to led us in the way the Father has put before us.

In his rule for monasteries, St. Benedict speaks about leadership.  In a monastery the abbot or abbess is the authority.  Everyone in the monastery answers to them.  However, St. Benedict is explicit in directing that the abbot/abbess needs to consult those in the monastery before they make a decision.  Everyone in the monastery is to seek to be of one accord. 

This type of model is what we see in synods called by the Vatican.  Many people come to discuss the issues placed before the synod.  They make recommendations to the pope.  The pope needs to listen to what they say but the decision lies with him. 

I try to follow this model myself.  I do not seek to make decisions unilaterally.  I consult with our Parish Pastoral Council, our Finance Council, staff, and others as appropriate.  It is for me as the priest-in-charge to make the final decision but I want to build consensus.  I want to know all sides.  Then I make a decision.  Pray for me!

Returning to the events in Acts chapter 15 from which our first reading is taken, after the disciples come to one accord, they take another important step.  Because there were those teaching without a “mandate” from them, the apostles and elders sent representatives with Paul and his companions with Paul to deliver the news so that the people would know that what they were told was not simply Paul’s opinion but that of the whole church.

In the same way, when a synod is finished, the pope writes a concluding document and distributes it to the whole church so that all may know what was decided.  Good communication is necessary.  We need to help people understand.

A parallel for this in our parish can be found in the insert in today’s bulletin.  You may know that we have been running out of Mass intentions lately.  To make sure everyone has a fair chance to have Masses said, I have been in consultation with the staff about what the considerations are.  Now, we are modifying our policy for Mass intentions slightly.  You will find the new policy in the insert today.  However, before you come to the policy, you will find two pages written by me to help people understand what Mass intentions are about and other possible ways to remember people.

If you remember back to last year when I came, I said there are three things I most enjoy in my ministry; saying Mass, hearing confessions, and teaching.

I enjoy saying Mass because the Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith.  The bread and wine truly become the Body and Blood of Jesus.

I enjoy hearing confessions because I want to help people feel God’s forgiveness and mercy.

I enjoy teaching because when we learn more about faith, we can come closer to Jesus.  The closer we are to Jesus, the more peace we have.

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