Cardinal Wuerl's Homily at Rite of Reception for the St. Luke Community
Former Episcopalians find encouragement and welcome in Cardinal's words
Your faith journey that brings you to the Lord's Table and to the sacrament of confirmation began with baptism. It is for that reason that we began this Mass with the blessing and sprinkling of holy water to remind us of our baptism by which we were incorporated into Christ's death and Resurrection.
His Eminence Cardinal Donald Wuerl Archbishop of Washington
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception Washington, D.C.
Sunday, October 9, 2011 9:30 a.m.
MASS AND RITE OF RECEPTION INTO FULL COMMUNION SAINT LUKE'S EPISCOPAL
Homily by His Eminence Cardinal Donald Wuerl Archbishop of Washington
It is a pleasure to welcome all of you to this celebration of reception into the full communion of the Catholic Church. In a particular way, I want to welcome Mark Lewis, who for many years cared pastorally for the Saint Luke community that is now the Saint Luke Ordinariate Catholic Community.
In the first reading from the Prophet Isaiah, we see painted for us an image of God's holy dwelling. Isaiah speaks of the holy mountain where God's people rejoice in the great banquet and experience the joy that comes from being with God.
In the responsorial Psalm we are reminded that our hope is that we shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of our life. The eternal house is the great heavenly kingdom, but Jesus came among us to tell us that the kingdom is also present here and now. The beginnings of that kingdom are with us now in his Church.
The Church and the kingdom of God are not precisely synonymous. The Church is the realization on earth of God's kingdom, whose final fulfillment is in eternity. The Gospels tell us that Jesus "went around all Galilee proclaiming the Gospel of the kingdom" (Mt 4:23).
He taught a reality that was a real part of the Messianic hopes of the Jewish people, which centered on the glorious kingdom that the Messiah would establish. Yet when Christ spoke of the kingdom of God, he was careful to free the idea of the "kingdom" from the nationalistic hopes of the people among whom he lived. To accomplish this, he often emphasized the heavenly aspect of the kingdom and its inherent religious character. The kingdom was an image, a prototype of what Jesus would establish as the beginnings of his kingdom. Christ's kingdom is rooted in this world. Christ shows it to us as something visible, a community called together by him, of which he is the Good Shepherd, the true and lasting Head.
The Church instituted by Christ and alive through the power of the Holy Spirit is both visible and spiritual. The Catechism of the Catholic Church quotes the Second Vatican Council: "The one mediator, Christ, established and ever sustains here on earth his holy Church, the community of faith, hope and charity, as a visible organization through which he communicates truth and grace to all men" (Lumen Gentium, 8).
The New Testament is replete with many images that help us grasp the profound nature of the Church. The Church is the Body of Christ, the beginning of the kingdom, the family of God, and the way to salvation. Today, as a part of your faith journey, you come to the Church to complete your initiation into the Body of Christ, the beginning of the kingdom, the Church.
The celebration of confirmation is in its own way a continuation of Pentecost. It is a reminder to all of us that the outpouring of the Spirit did not just happen once in the time of the apostles. Somehow we share in the continuing outpouring of the Spirit and we are instilled with the same power that enables us to overcome doubt, timidity and even fear in our efforts to accomplish whatever the Spirit asks of each of us.
We receive the spiritual power to participate in the transformation of this world - or at least our small part of it - into something wonderful. Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, spoke of this when he was with us and celebrated Mass. He told us: "In the exercise of my ministry as the Successor of Peter, I have come to America to confirm you, my brothers and sisters, in the faith of the Apostles (cf. Lk 22:32). I have come to proclaim anew, as Peter proclaimed on the day of Pentecost, that Jesus Christ is Lord and Messiah.I have come.to implore from the Lord a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church in this country.[T]he Church was born of the Spirit's gift of repentance and faith in the risen Lord. In every age she is impelled by the same Spirit to bring to men and women of every race, language and people (cf. Rev 5:9) the good news of our reconciliation with God in Christ."
There is a sense in which the events that occurred on the first Pentecost are renewed, repeated and reflected in each of us. Pentecost continues. There is still an outpouring of the Spirit. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are as much ours as they were the prized possessions of the ...
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