Fifth Sunday of Easter Homily

Posted on May 17, 2017


14 May 2017


I didn’t intend to wake up to watch John Paul II’s funeral in the middle of the night.

I did though.  Accidently.

Like many people I was moved by the simplicity of his casket

sitting there on the ground in front of St. Peter’s Basilica.

This man used to be the most powerful person in the church.

There he was, in a simple wooden box, on the ground.

His funeral in the end, even though it was attended by the great and powerful,

was really not much different than the funeral that anyone of us might have.

There is a lesson there. It’s a hard lesson for me.

As I’ve said in many places and at many times, I’ve never really wanted to be a priest.

I am because at one point in my life I thought it was the right thing to do.

And I would like to think I get a gold star for sticking it out this long.

And honestly there are times when I think of all the people who haven’t stuck it out,

who aren’t part of this worshiping assembly anymore,

I want to think that somehow, I’m still in the church–and they’re out.

And the hard lesson for me is that that may not be true at all.

What I saw as I watched that simple wooden casket on the ground

was the common, the universal description of everyone of us–

that we hear in the second reading today:

a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people who belong to God.

In other words, we don’t join the church–we are the church,

we don’t belong to the church, we are the living stones of the church.

And here is the unfair part.

Those of us who are here are called to do two things:

1) Never to forget that those who aren’t here, are also the church.

2) Always to act as if those who aren’t here, are also the church.

That simple wooden casket of John Paul II sitting on the ground reminded me,

he was not so different from me at all, and I from him.

You me, are sisters and brothers who are not here we all are a chosen people.