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Homilies for 6th Sunday of Easter

Videos from selected homilists; Transcript excerpts from Fr. Hawkswell, Fr. Fleming, Fr. Chama, Msgr. Pellegrino, Fr. Sigma, Fr. Kavanaugh’s homilies; Bishop Barron podcasts; Life Issues; Doctrinal Homily Outlines

6th Sunday of Easter (C)


St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The Church “is not just an assembly of believers gathered around the Pope,” writes Father Hawkswell. “She is a body whose head is Christ and whose soul is the Holy Spirit.” (Fr. Lawrence Lew, OP/Flickr – cropped)
Bloom Chama Chua Cummins Fleming Hawkswell Holsington
Kavanaugh Lane Langeh Lawrence McKinnon Pavone Pellegrino
Powell Schuster Senior Smiga Terra Turner Wester

Featured Homilies


The Church is Both Human and Divine



For the second consecutive week, the Sunday readings remind us that the Catholic Church is guided by God the Holy Spirit.

The Church is not merely human, as many people think. She is also divine: established by God the Son, mandated by his Father, and maintained and guarded by the Holy Spirit. She is not just an assembly of believers gathered around the Pope; she is a body whose head is Christ and whose soul is the Holy Spirit.

Our own soul animates all parts of our body so that they function together, even though they are all different. Similarly, the Holy Spirit animates all the parts of Christ’s mystical body, joining them together with their head, says the Catechism of the Catholic Church. He is “the source” of the body’s life, “of its unity in diversity, and of the riches of its gifts.”


On Keeping the Lord’s Word…



Whoever loves me will keep my word… Jesus is looking for hearts that will keep his word. Of course, he’s not the only one! Many people give us their word to keep: friends, spouses, colleagues… They give us their word of friendship, their word of love, their word of trust, their word of pledge and promise…

These are people looking for hearts in which they can speak their word without fear of ridicule or rejection… They’re looking for hearts in which their word will be respected, reverenced and treasured when entrusted from one heart to another… We all seek hearts that will keep our word and Jesus looks for hearts that will keep his word…

Keeping someone’s word in my heart is not always easy. It requires: attentiveness, care, vigilance, loyalty, a strength that is gentle and a gentleness that is robust. To keep someone’s word in my heart is to be attuned, even obedient to its presence; to listen and respond to it faithfully; to be faithful to the one who gave my heart a word to keep.


A Divine Partnership


We would not be here today, if we did not believe that we have a relationship with God. But there has been a significant amount of theological discussion over the centuries on how this relationship functions, especially when it comes to getting things done. When some good thing needs to happen in our world or when some evil thing needs to be stopped the question is, “Whose responsibility is it to act: God or ours?”

Now certainly God has more power to act. We believe in a God who is involved in our lives and in human history, shaping the course of human events, changing hearts, and bringing hope where there was only despair. This God can act much more powerfully than we can. So when we hear the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel, “Peace I leave you, my peace I give you,” our first response might be to sit back and wait. Since Jesus has promised peace, we can suppose that Jesus will establish peace. So we respond, “Good, thank you, bring it on! Give us peace!”


Divine Invitation

| 2019
Dominican Friars of England & Wales, Scotland

According to one account of the Council of Nicea in 325AD – the very Council which gave us the Creed that we affirm each Sunday after the homily –  one bishop, St Nicholas, yanked the beard of a priest and punched him in the face when he proceeded to spout heresy.

Now the man whose beard was purportedly rudely and roughly yanked was named Arius and he was accused of several heresies, but the one which is most relevant to our Gospel today, is the heresy of ‘subordinationism’: which is a view which tends toward seeing the Son as mediating between God the Father and the rest of creation, with the Son existing in some undefined middle ground between the two, not truly divine, but not truly human either. Now I hope that you’re thinking, ‘Well, I certainly don’t believe that, I believe that each of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are God, that the Persons of the Trinity share the same Divine nature, and that none is the inferior of the other’. If so, well done your catechism teacher!


Renewal Amidst Change

Al Cariño, OMI | 2013

Among the many things Jesus told His apostles in His farewell address (Jn. 14:23–29) was, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” Keeping Jesus’ word is the way we show our love for Jesus.

At the personal level, before we can keep Jesus’ word, we obviously have to know it. Thus there is need not only to read the Word of God as found in the Scriptures specially the Gospels but also to prayerfully reflect on it. This should then lead us to an affirmation of faith, hope and love and which we make concrete through our good works.

At the institutional level, though Jesus founded the Church, He did not give it organizational details. Rather, He only gave a thrust — “Make disciples of all nations… Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you” (Mt. 28:19–20). Its organization into a living and functioning Church was left to the apostles under the leadership of Peter. This caused problems in the early Church.


Building Church of Love

HomiliesST. MARY OF THE VALLEY | 2016

Bottom line: God is at work: In our prayer and in our leaders – building the Church of Love.

For the past three weeks the homilies have focused on our parish priorities: Lift up Jesus. Love one another. Make disciples. These priorities will guide us in the coming years. We have seen how they connect with the work of the Archdiocese that we support through the Annual Catholic Appeal. We want to build a “church of love.”

The readings today indicate the importance of our leaders in building a Church of Love. Jesus promises the Holy Spirit to his Apostles: “The Father,” he says will send the Holy Spirit to “teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.”

Before saying how this applies specifically to Church leaders, let’s look at the personal application. Prayer is the work of the Holy Spirit. Even if you feel distracted, for example at Mass, do not despair. The Holy Spirit does the real work. Woody Allen said that eighty percent of success is showing up. That applies to prayer. When we show up with a right intention, Jesus by the power of the Spirit lifts us to the Father.

Beyond this personal dimension the Holy Spirit works through the Apostles and their successors. The bishops in union with the pope keep us together in sound teaching and they help us apply that teaching to the complex world we live in.

RELATED HOMILIES | 2022 Homilies


It is His Church



Jesus did not leave His people vulnerable to the doctrinal whims of competing leaders. He constantly reminds us as He does today, “Peace I bequeath you, my own peace I give you, a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” Rather, He built the Church on the solid foundation of the apostles (cf. Eph. 2:19-20). He gave the Church His Holy Spirit to enable her to be “the pillar and bulwark of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). Despite the cultural winds that have blown through the ages, the faithful have always had a visible, easily identifiable magisterial “rock” on which they could safely stand in all seasons. Despite the seemingly confusing and conflicting remarks of bishops and priests, we are assured by our Lord in His own words, “but the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you.”

I guess much of the concerns of those who wish to defend orthodox Catholic teachings from further erosion as well as the vain hopes of those who wish to see revolutionary change in the Church as well as in her teachings are based on the assumption that the Church herself has the ability to change some of her teachings, and that she has indeed done so at Synod on the Family, or in the Pope’s latest document. Both these fears are groundless. Don’t believe what you read in the headlines of CNN or the New York Times – “Pope Changes Catholic Doctrine.” It simply didn’t happen. To begin with, the Church cannot change any of her teachings any more than the Pope can do so. We believe that the Holy Spirit protects the Church from teaching error. Specifically, the Church is infallible when the Pope, and the bishops united with him, declare that such and such a doctrine of faith or morality is to be definitively held by all the faithful.





“Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come and make our dwelling in him.”

This instruction from today’s Gospel builds on the statement of faith found in the Prologue of that same Gospel, the Gospel of John. The central message of the Prologue is the Incarnation of the Lord: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” The exact translation is that “He pitched his tent among us.” In our modern terms, this would be, “He moved into the house down the street.” Today’s Gospel takes the dwelling of God on earth to a deeper level. He is not just among us. He is within us. He is within us as a worshiping Body, the Church. He is within us in the union of all believers into the Mystical Body of Christ. He is all this and much more. He is within each of us. We can speak to God all day, not addressing ourselves to some being “out there somewhere,” not even addressing ourselves to “the man upstairs.” We can speak to God within us.


Back to the Original Plan


When I place the First Reading alongside the Gospel I just can’t resist crying out: it begins badly! And it’s not just out there, but right where I’m too. That why I see this 6th Sunday of Easter as an invitation to get back to the drawing board and check out if we are still faithful to the original plan.

In the Gospel, Jesus continues with the farewell discourse, assuring the disciples not to allow themselves to be troubled; for although he’s leaving, he shall come back. Besides, he will send them the advocate, the Holy Spirit, who will remind them of all he has taught. And he leaves them the gift of peace. Indeed, there’s a great deal to highlight from these last words of Jesus, nevertheless, we should take care not to lose sight of the kernel of his message. Remember?

Jesus gave the disciples a new commandment: that they love one another as he loves them, adding that: it’s by their love that the world will recognise them as his disciples. And in this Sunday’s Gospel the word love come up again. If the disciples love Jesus, they will keep his word, even in his absence. A person who keeps a word, is a person worthy of trust -he remains faithful.  I can’t imagine fidelity other than remaining true to this message of love. Appreciating not only how central, but also how safe, love is; St Augustin couldn’t hesitate to recommend: “Love and do whatever you like”. Why? He was sure, with love there’s no room for harming oneself or others. But what place does love occupy in the teaching we get in the First Reading?


Jesus in Your House: Give Up the Motorcycle!

HomiliesYEAR C HOMILIES | 2013

You want to have Jesus with you always, don’t you? In your house, just like Zacchaeus had Jesus in his house? There is a beautiful invitation from Jesus today,

Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. (John 14:23)

Love Jesus, keep his word, and Jesus will come to you and live with you, he will always be with you. And when you have Jesus, you have peace unlike anything the world can give you. As Jesus says in our Gospel today,

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. (John 14:27)

Yes, we all want that peace but on another occasion Jesus said he came to bring a sword and not peace, so which is it? (Matt 10:34) The more we allow Jesus into every aspect of our lives, the more his word shows up what is in need of healing in our lives, so in that sense his word is a sword (Heb 4:12). Then when we allow the sword of Jesus—his word—to heal us, to remove anything in our lives that is a barrier or keeping us from Jesus, then there is even more room in our lives for Jesus.




Where does friendship begin?  It is a question worthy of reflecting upon.  When we look at the friendships within our lives, where and when did they start?  Did the friendships begin all at once in an instant, almost like a thunderclap, or did the friendships we have gradually develop and grow over time, even to the point where we might not remember exactly when a friendship began?  I think that the latter of these two is the nature of true friendship.  Friendship grows over time and it grows through daily encounter and interaction.

As Christians we believe in the friendship of God – not because we have loved God first but because God has first chosen to love us.  The readings for this sixth Sunday of Easter can be read in the terms of friendship (Acts 15:1-2, 22-29, Rev. 21:10-14, 22-23 and Jn. 14:23-29).


Necessary Things

HomiliesSUNDAY WEB SITE | 1997

One of the most seductive temptations of the believer is to identify the will of God with the will of the believer, and not the other way around. God’s will is squeezed into patriotism, leftism, capitalism, feminism, hierarchy, civil law, financial success, ecclesiastical tradition. In extreme cases, the supposed will of God can be harnessed to justify leaving a spouse, breaking a promise, even killing someone, whether Communist, criminal, or oppressor.

The same delusion has occurred when philosophers have mauled the eternal and necessary “law of nature” on behalf of cultural prejudice, class interest, or personal preference. Natural law has sometimes been used to justify the most horrendous of crimes. More often it has been manipulated to legitimate slavery, domination of women, and the exploitation of the poor.

Among the churches, has it ever been heard that a certain practice can never be changed, since it is the will of God? And yet, has the practice been much more significant than the act of circumcision? Clearly circumcision was an important issue. But some of the antagonists seem to have given it the status of unchangeable law.


The Return of Jesus to the Father



This Sunday’s Gospel text comes from words of Jesus during the Last Supper regarding the eventual return of Jesus to his Father in heaven. Christ came from the Father as God’s ambassador with the mission to reveal God’s love and care for the human race. It is God’s desire that all be redeemed in the blood of the Lamb of God, who is Christ, Second person of the Blessed Trinity.

The return of Jesus to the Father entails for the followers of Jesus a separation. A separation, though, that also places them in a special relationship to God and commissioned to continue the work of Christ in the world. We alive today are inheritors of the same work by the lives we live, the words we speak. “Proclaim the Gospel with your life,” followers of Jesus have been told from of old and right to the present. As another phrase, attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi expresses it, “Always proclaim the Gospel, and if you must, use words.” In other words, actions speak louder than words, as nuns of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus taught me and thousands of other children since the 1800’s.


My Gift to You



My gift to you”, said Jesus to us, is “a peace that the world cannot give”. That got me thinking, and asking myself, What might the “world’s” description of peace be? What came to mind was: absence of hostilities, no credible threats of terrorism, reasonable prosperity into the foreseeable future, harmony in the family, and in the community generally, manageable health…

I started to look at that, and it occurred to me that it was quite “me” focussed. So, I thought, it might also involve a similar experience for my family, my friends, too – though less so. I think that for some, peace might also involve the absence of gross suffering of others, at least when unmerited. Depending, of course, on people’s capacity “to weep” [as Pope Francis once commented]. Would it affect our sleep, or, as Jesus said, “trouble our hearts”?


The Truth that the Spirit Brings



The readings today instruct us that as a fruit of the Resurrection, we enjoy the presence of Christ forever, through his Holy Spirit. That Spirit both enlightens us interiorly and as a society, bringing about peace and right relationships.

The truth that the Spirit brings, first of all, is one with the word of Jesus and the Father, as the Gospel passage explains. No “new gospel” can come along under the purported inspiration of the Spirit. No such inspiration will contradict the settled teachings of the Church. Jesus says the Spirit will “remind” us of what he said. Such reminders are necessary as we journey through history, and through periods, as in our day, when certain trends obscure fundamental truths, such as that of the sanctity of life. When influences in society like the decisions of government or the messages of mass media line up against the sanctity of life, the Spirit “reminds” the faithful and the Church of the truth about life and how it is to be respected.



Peace: One More Thing Jesus Messes Up!


There is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. You are no longer our own; you no longer live for yourself alone. So, you can stop running and hiding. You are possessed by a spirit! Wholly owned and operated by the Holy Spirit. And if this causes you noticeable delight—Good!—but let me add a dire warning that will likely creep you out: you have, we have in virtue of our possession by the Holy Spirit, we have inherited (are you ready?)…the Peace of Christ! If this doesn’t give you the heebie-jeebies, you weren’t listening to the gospel. Jesus says to the disciples: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” Easy enough. Then, he adds: “Not as the world gives do I give it to you.” Now that’s just wrong! He had a good thing going there and then he messes it up by telling us that this Good Thing he’s giving us isn’t exactly the Good Thing we thought it was. And that changes everything. Except this: there is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. We are no longer our own.
You would think that as heirs to the peace of Christ, we would be rejoicing in his serene calm, a well-balanced spiritual harmony. You would think that we would never argue, never fight, never become angry or frustrated with one another. You would think. And you would be wrong. Why would we assume that Christ’s Peace has anything at all to do with spiritual serenity or psychological wellness or bodily stillness? Given Jesus’ tumultuous life and his violent end on the cross; the oftentimes violent history of the Church on earth; given the sometimes painful, purifying work of the Spirit’s Fire in us and among us; and the ebb and flow of pilgrims’ holiness, why would any Christian believe that Christ’s Peace is about peace at all? Shalom I leave with you; my shalom I give to you.

What Does Peace Look Like


At the Last Supper, Jesus tells his disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” This means Jesus is offering this gift of peace right before his betrayal, passion and death. Therefore, Jesus’ offer of “peace” to his disciples at this particular moment in the Gospel can feel rather incongruous, to say the least. Here is a parable I like that, for me, articulates the kind of peace Jesus is talking about. The parable is entitled “Painting Peace”. The author is anonymous as far as I can tell and there are several versions of it out there.1 This one begins like this.

There once was a King who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried. The King looked at all the pictures, but there were only two he really liked and he had to choose between them. One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror, for peaceful towering mountains were all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect picture of peace. The other picture had mountains too. But these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky from which rain fell and in which lightening played. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. This did not look peaceful at all. But when the King looked, he saw behind the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. In the bush a mother bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird in [that] nest. [And, despite her surroundings, she looked perfectly peaceful]. Which picture do you think won the prize? The King [obviously] chose the second picture. “Because,” explained the King, “Peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart.”


Our Limited Knowledge and Understanding



Knowledge and understanding are vital components of everyone’s life. From the time of our birth until our death, every person learns more and understands more about so many things. Thus, we grow in knowledge and appreciation for our world, for ourselves and others, and for life itself. It is difficult when we cannot understand something – because without that understanding, its meaning will, usually, escape us!

Another difficulty is to be denied the knowledge about something that we think is important for us to know. Even another difficulty is being forced to wait for the knowledge and understanding we seek and desire. The fact that we must wait might be determined by others – It might be because information is not available – It might be that evolving, unknown factors will determine the final outcome.

Consequently, so much of our human development requires waiting. We must, simply, wait for life to unfold. We must wait for the knowledge which will bring more understanding when the time is right!


Trusting and Letting Go in Anticipation of the Gift of the Holy Spirit

HomiliesST. LOUIS REVIEW | 2022

How many times did the disciples and apostles think they lost Jesus? And how many times did they realize that He was still with them? How many times have we had tough losses or great pain to endure in our lives? How many times have we imagined that God has abandoned or forgotten us? How many times have we realized that He hadn’t? How long will it take us to believe Jesus when He says He will never abandon us and always be with us?

At this point in the Easter season, we have heard many of the stories of Jesus’ reconnection with His apostles and disciples. We have read the accounts of how He reestablished relationships with those who are most dear to Him. It seems to be a pattern: He promises us forever, and we are forgetful time and again.


The Advocate

by Fr. Adrian McCaffery| 2022
Homiletic & Pastoral Review

The Advocate of whom Christ speaks here is among us even now. He is here, among us, guiding us, propelling us, strengthening us toward ever greater holiness. We do not perhaps always feel this Presence; but we may be sure of it; sure as we are of anything. For Christ himself tells us so.

When we think of “Church,” our minds, our imaginations are perhaps inclined to think of some body of men, generally older men, ruling the roost from Rome. That is, maybe, a friendlier thought than what many might today think when they hear this word “Church.” Perhaps they hear in the word an institution riddled with corruption, deceit, abuse, scandal. It is unimaginably sad; and sad, because, in too many ways, so justified. But even in such cases, persons only see in part; only a very smallest part; they see some deeply troubled human beings in some of the humanity of Mother Church; indeed, they do not see the Church whole, or the Church Entire. Perhaps we ourselves — we Catholics — are inclined to forget, as well, what “Church” is; what the Church means fully. Perhaps, often, we too only see in part. For sure: seeing in part is very easy to do; the success of scandal ensures it.


Peace I Bequeath to You!


Claret Media Cameroon

What message can we expect to hear now when most of our people are dying because of fanaticism from different terrorist and separatist groups? What message can we expect to hear now when most people in power are not open for dialogue? What message can console one when we reflect on the war-torn countries around the world that understand only the sounds of the bombs and grenades? What sort of language can we hear in situations when land dispute is the order of the day? Only a comforting word is needed.

On this note, the Risen Lord in our Gospel today proclaims a message which is highly needed in our world today: PEACE I bequeath to you! In effect, peace has been menaced these days in the world by the canker worm of terrorism, unstable governance, dictatorship, violence, corruption etc. We think of the refugees who are displaced because there is no peace in their countries and towns of origin. At the level of the family peace has been sacrificed on the altar of broken marriages, disobedient children, land and property dispute, jealousy etc.


A World Where Women Choose Life



In today’s gospel, at the Last Supper, Jesus tells his disciples, “I am going away, and I will come back to you.” Meanwhile, “the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything.” Even so, they must have felt abandoned. An unwanted pregnancy can bring even to other members of the woman’s family feelings such as these: Jesus has gone away. He will come back, but he’s not here yet. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, has come to teach, but we do not often know the right thing to do, especially in times of crisis. In this passage Jesus gives another gift that such people long for most: peace.

Some say that asserting a woman’s right to choose reacts to her lack of power in securing leadership roles, gaining respect as a decision maker, and earning a fair wage. Perhaps if women secure stronger positions in society and in the church, they will in times of crisis more readily embrace solutions beyond abortion. Pope Francis addressed empowerment last month in his exhortation Christ Is Alive, following the Synod of Bishops on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment. He wrote, “a living Church can react by being attentive to the legitimate claims of those women who seek greater justice and equality. A living Church can look back on history and acknowledge a fair share of male authoritarianism, domination, various forms of enslavement, abuse and sexist violence. With this outlook, [the Church] can support the call to respect women’s rights, and offer convinced support for greater reciprocity between males and females.” That’s from paragraph 42. By promoting that empowerment, we also promote a world where women who choose life will receive the gift of peace

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In the Crypt Church at the Basilica of the National Shrine: Celebrant & Homilist: Rev. Msgr. Kevin T. Hart Guest Choir: Georgetown Prep – A Cupola Hoyas, North Bethesda, MD

Featured Homilies (2019, 2016)

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