Weekly Homily from Father Jim Hogan for May 5, 2013

• Acts 15:1-2, 22-29 • Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23 • John 14:23-29 • 6 Easter C ’13 •

Print PDF: Weekly Homily 05.05.2013

Scripture Readings: Sixth Sunday of Easter

Christ is risen!  [Truly he is risen.]  Remember how the companions of Jesus were hiding behind locked doors in Jerusalem?  The Risen One came and stood in their midst.  He said to them, “peace be with you.”  They experienced Christ’s “peace/shalom” and were determined to extend that “shalom” into the world.

We learned from the Acts of the Apostles about the disagreement and bickering within the first Christian community in Antioch. According to this account, when “the apostles and elders” of the early Church learned of the bickering, they acted out of their conviction that “the Holy Spirit gifts us with shalom” making our mutual life in Christ possible.

“Shalom” was the traditional greeting of our Jewish ancestors. “Shalom” is not merely the cessation of war or temporary truce.  “Shalom” means completeness or a condition of perfection.  To wish another “shalom” is to wish for their fulfillment, for abundance of all they need, and for prosperity.  More significantly, to wish another “shalom” is to make a commitment.  It is a commitment to do all I am able to assure fulfillment, abundance and prosperity in your life.

Please allow me to say that again.  To wish another “shalom” is to make a commitment.  It is a commitment to do all I am able to assure he/she lives in “shalom.”

We believe our bishops gathered in the II Vatican Council, were guided by the Holy Spirit.  In response to John XXIII’s invitation, they called our household of faith to “aggiornamento” – “spiritual renewal.”  Within the Council there were serious disagreements and arguments among the bishops. As the Council documents were implemented, the bickering among us in our local churches exploded like a volcano and has never ceased. In the decades since, the decisions, directives and regulations imposed on us by John Paul and Benedict exasperated our bickering.

Christ is risen!  [Truly he is risen.] With uncanny foresight the Council restored and made “the sign of peace” available to all of us in our liturgy and the Spirit of Christ continues offering us the gift of “shalom.”  Yet the bickering continues.  Perhaps our engagement in the “sign of peace” remains superficial. If you play golf or ski I think you will appreciate what I have learned in my efforts to play a fiddle.  A fiddle played without focus or intent produces irritating screeches.  When I am intentional and focused in playing the fiddle, the irritating screeches are replaced by melodious and pleasing sounds.  The liturgical “sign of peace” is far more significant than golf, skiing or playing the fiddle.

Christ is risen!  [Truly he is risen.]  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.”  “Shalom!” 

Clearly the “church” is a human, vulnerable, earthly institution.  We sometimes disagree and bicker with one another.  But “church” is more than a collection of similarly minded people; more than a social club with aims, rules and regulations, gathered to share our recent adventures!

“Church” is a living organism – the Living Body of Christ! The Risen One dwells in you, and in these others, and in me!  We gather to celebrate Eucharist so we remain mindful of and faithful to our true identity.  This also is why we engage in the “sign of peace.”  This exchange is not a “half-time break” in our celebration. In this privileged time and place before Communion we renew our commitment to be Christ for others.  We consciously express in word and gesture our intention to be Christ for others, to do all we are able to assure the reality of “shalom” in the life of others.

Many of us are frustrated with our present predicament as church.  We cannot attribute this solely to the hierarchy!  “Aggiornamento” – spiritual renewal — living more fully in the Mystery of Christ, is a personal task. So much depends on our intentionality!  I invite you to examine your own engagement in this simple rite of “shalom.”  Make it an authentic expression of your conviction that Christ is risen!  [Truly he is risen.]

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