The son’s complete trust in his father

Here is the text prepared for Bishop Olmsted’s homily for the fifth Sunday of Easter.

May 15, 2022

When Judas left them, Jesus said, “Now the Son of man is glorified and God is glorified in him(John 13:31).

Jesus transformed the moment of Judas’ betrayal into the hour that redeemed the world. He turned what seemed like the triumph of evil into the victory of his self-sacrifice on the cross. Jesus’ total trust in the love of his Father most completely revealed the nature of God:God is love, and he who dwells in love dwells in God and God in him“(1 John 4:16).

It is a strong faith in the risen Christ that has made the saints who are honored in the stained glass windows of this chapel glorious. And it is the faith in the same victory of the love of Christ that you and I celebrate at each Sacrifice of the Mass.

Forty-four years ago, when John Paul II was elected Successor of Peter, he electrified the world with his words, born of deep trust in Christ, “Do not be afraid! Do not be afraid to welcome Christ into your life!” The papal biographer, George Weigel, wrote of him (Vol 2, p. 371), “…the depth and intensity of his belief in the liberating power of the love of Christ was the deepest root of his papal achievements, because it was the deepest source of his life and thought. Weigel also pointed out (Ibid, p. 475), “…a striking feature of John Paul II’s discipleship…was his ability to inspire others to new depths of faith – faith in God, faith in Christ, faith in the Church.

This is the mission you and I share today: faith in the risen Christ sets us apart from the world for the world. With a living faith in Christ, which equates to a deep trust in his love, we can endure trials and not lose hope.

We see this in Paul and Barnabas in our first reading today: Paul and Barnabas “returned to Lystra and Iconium and Antioch…” (Acts 14:21-27)

Lystra, Iconium, Antioch – we are told the names of these cities because of the way Paul and Barnabas were treated there. In Iconium, after teaching there for a short time, many came to believe in Jesus; but some jealous leaders of the Jewish Synagogue tried “attack and stone Barnabas and Paul; and they were forced to flee (Acts 14:5ff). At Lystra Paul taught the word of God, and many believed and were baptized; but out of jealousy, some leaders of the local synagogue”stoned Paul and dragged him out of town, thinking he was dead(14:19ff). But Paul recovered from his wounds and, with Barnabas, he went to other cities to testify to the love of Jesus. At Antioch in Pisidia, after a first success in the transmission of the Gospel, accompanied by great joy among the enthusiastic new converts, Paul “suffered violent abuseat the hands of influential women and men (13:50ff). So we can see good reasons why Paul and Barnabas retraced their steps to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch. They knew that the new followers of Christ in these cities were excited about the gift of faith and were striving to persevere in the face of dreadful threats. Barnabas and Paul also knew that these new followers of Christ needed their apostolic support as they faced great challenges for their faith in Jesus.

As Bishop of Phoenix, a similar privilege and responsibility rests with me. In a time of increasing attacks on the Catholic faith, your testimony of strong faith in Christ is as vital to the Kingdom of God today as it was 2,000 years ago. The witness of the laity is necessary today in the face of the serious threats that weigh on marriage and the family, on the dignity and the right to life of every human being, on the rights of conscience, etc.

A few years ago, Pope Francis said:

…Some lay people are beginning to believe that the fundamental service that God asks of them is to become hosts, readers or extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion to the Church. Rather, the call is to live and spread the faith in their families, workplaces, schools, neighborhoods and beyond… The layperson must live as a layperson, be a leaven of God’s love in society itself… to create and sow hope, to proclaim the faith, not from a pulpit but from everyday life. And like all of us, the lay person is called to carry his daily cross, the lay person’s cross.

Pope Francis is certainly not opposed to the laity serving as lectors or ushers and contributing to the good order and beauty of the Holy Liturgy. But none of these should ever be confused with the primary means by which the laity bears witness to Christ.

We need married couples who gratefully live the gift of their faith in Christ, even in the face of difficulties; we need children like the two children of Fatima behind the altar of this chapel.

We need professionals like Giana Beretta Molla, doctor, wife and mother who risked her life for the sake of her last child; we need millennials like Frédéric Ozanam, who founded the Saint-Vincent de Paul Society when he was a student at the University of Paris. As we clergy have a necessary mission in the Church and in society, Christ calls the laity to be the leaven of God’s truth and the spark of his love in their homes and in society at large. , living the faith in the ordinary circumstances of life.

The words of Paul and Barnabas still ring true today:It is necessary to undergo many trials to enter the Kingdom of God.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus says:As I have loved you, you too must love one another. This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.(Jn 13:34). May others see in us a joyful love of Jesus.

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