Deacon Steven Johnson’s Homily 5-26-22

Deacon Steven Johnson’s Homily
Homily for the 6th Week of Easter, Thursday, 5-26-22, Year C
Readings: Acts 18:1-8; Psalm 98:1-4; Gospel Jn 16:16-20: Memorial: Saint Philip Neri, Priest
Theme: It Takes a Village

In a family, a child is usually not raised by just one person. The child is raised by the family whether it be just mom and dad, or mom, dad, brothers, sisters, aunts, and uncles. Each person in a family has a role to play and a means to influence each other in the ways of life and love. The formation of children is done through many, not just a few or one. This same character of the family can make up a village also. In times past, many small towns and villages were comprised of families who lived there for generations. Everyone knew everyone else and the whole village participated in raising the children within their boundaries. You had no problem if your neighbor disciplined your child because he/she was tearing up the flowers in their neighbor’s yard.

Jesus’s mandate to, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all I have commanded you.” (Mt 28:19), is a command to evangelize. And what better way to evangelize than to do it as a village of people who are all of the same understanding and belief, sharing in the responsibility to bring others to that same message?

Usually, for this to happen, it takes a leader with a vision who can instill cooperation, collaboration, and understanding between people. Then, with one accord they can go forth, and in numbers, helping to reinforce their message and bring others to that understanding. 

In today’s readings, we see St. Paul on his mission to evangelize the Gentiles in Greece. He is accompanied by companions but needs further help, and so calls on Silas and Timothy to come and assist him in spreading his message of the Gospel. With Aquila and Priscilla, they form a village of collaborating men and women who hold each other up in trying times and witness the truth to others.  If St. Paul was alone, his message and work would have been much more difficult and probably less fruitful.

Jesus speaks of His death and His resurrection to the apostles, but they do not understand His message yet. They will come to realize later that Jesus’s death and resurrection will unify and strengthen them as a village of disciples, and with the Holy Spirit will be a formidable force to spread Jesus’s Gospel message. Through the leadership of St. Peter, the disciples made up of men and women, form a village of believers whose message is love and compassion. Through this small village of people, the majesty of the Catholic Church began.

St. Philip Neri, born in Florence Italy in 1515, became that same immovable force for Christ. Known as the Apostle of Rome, St. Philip, in his loving and caring way, brought many to understand Christ’s Gospel and the love that is shared within it. In 1551, St. Philip was ordained a priest, and not long after that, he formed the Congregation of the Priests of the Oratory. Many came to the Oratory, which became like a village where they deepened their faith. St. Philip was all things to all men. He made it his mission to reach out to laypeople and not just the clergy. St. Philip died on May 26th, 1595. He was canonized by Pope Gregory XV on March 12, 1622. Through his evangelizing leadership and reform, St. Philip created a village of believers who spread the Gospel far beyond his humble oratory. May we also be a siren for Jesus and a catalyst that can form a village of believers to bring many others to the love of Christ.

Published by St. James, Belvidere

Saint James Catholic Church, Belvidere, IL