Sixth Sunday of Easter

To watch Fr. Joe’s homily from the Sixth Sunday of Easter: CLICK HERE!

Today’s First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles gives us another glimpse of the early Church.  And what we see is the Early Church and its leaders were not always on the same page.  But, there was something they did agree on: when issues arose, they not only needed to talk about it, they needed to discern where the Holy Spirit was directing or pointing the Church.

And one might ask today; where is the Holy Spirit directing our Church?

Not just a good question, but a great question.

This past week, local news carried a news item put forth by a New York City Law Firm about the Diocese of Albany and sexual abuse by Clergy.  Most of the information was old news from the past and some of the information shared was inaccurate.

But what such news items do for me is remind me, and maybe all of us of something that is horrible, horrendous to say the least.  And in light of new Legislation here in New York State, it seems we may be hearing and reading more about this in the coming months…

Then on Friday, I received an advance copy of a book that maybe sums up the feelings of many, entitled “Letter to a Suffering Church: A Bishop speaks on the Sexual Abuse Crisis” by Bishop Robert Barron.

Initially, I was not going to refer to the sexual abuse crisis, but we cannot bury our head in the sand, because the the Church is suffering in many ways.

So what’s to be done?  By me, by us, by others, by the Church?

Maybe our First Reading today gives us at least a first step:  turn to God.  Pray, asking God to allow us to discern the direction of the Holy Spirit for the Church of today and tomorrow.

I think sometimes our first response to this problem, or this challenge, is personal – this is what I would say or do.  Yet what is often missing are the facts which need to be part of the conversation.  But also not to be forgotten is the question, where is the Holy Spirit in this effort or conversation?  Where is the Holy Spirit guiding not only me but where is the Holy Spirit leading the Church?

As we heard in the Gospel today, Jesus reminds his Disciples (of 2,000 years ago and today) “…the advocate, the Holy Spirit… will teach you everything and remind you of all that I have told you… Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid… Peace I leave with you, peace I give to you.”

Individuals, groups of people, the Church… maybe even ourselves are suffering…  But there is hope, peace is possible…

In these days ahead, may we prayerfully and thoughtfully seek the Spirit of God to guide us, His disciples, and to guide the Church of Jesus Christ (note that I did not say my church or our church, but the Church of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior).

In the end, we are not Catholics because our leaders are flawless, but because we find Catholicism both compelling and beautiful.  We believe that it is Jesus who is our way, truth and life.