Sixth Sunday of Easter (2017)
By Fr. Leroy Clementich, CSC
I am writing this on an evening in February as the Notre Dame Women’s Basketball team meets the University of Connecticut Huskies once again as they have so many times in the past. Once again, they are both one and two in the nation, at least for now.
I have attended basketball games occasionally when they are playing here at home on the Notre Dame campus but I must say that the sound of the cheering, the band and the “canned music”, the strobe lights are a little much for this elderly fellow. But as I sit here at this computer in the quiet of my room on a winter’s evening, I am wondering what a basketball game or any game would be without joyful noise? If the auditorium were completely quiet, would the two teams even have any incentive to play? If attendees were constrained to sit and not cheer would they even want to pay the price a ticket? If you want your favorite team to win, you need to support it with your voice, your spirit, and your enthusiasm? In short, if a person or persons are truly interested in the outcome of any important event, it will show in their attitude, their excitement, and their support. We would like to think that this is the Notre Dame spirit, whether in the stadium on Saturday afternoon or at the Basilica on Sunday morning.
I am thinking about all this as I imagine what the spirit of the followers of Jesus must have been like when he told them that he would need to leave them, but that they would not lose his support his friendship; he (Jesus) would send an advocate known as the spirit of truth who would guide them in the direction that he himself had taken while still with them.
Now switch channels for a moment and ask what the Catholic world would look like, would sound like, would be like if the followers of Jesus in the year 2017 showed little or no enthusiasm for the work of Jesus in this time and place?
I imagine, of course, that many (most?) Catholics must feel that the spirit at a basketball game hardly fits the atmosphere of a Sunday morning Mass. Yes, that is probably true, at least in Anglophile communities. I, being one of those Anglophiles, know from experience that it takes a pretty good homily or some spirited music and song to get most Catholic congregations to cheer or clap. Yes, we call the Mass a celebration but it does not often sound like a celebration.
Perhaps the better question to ask is not about cheering or not cheering but about the interior spirit of a parish? Can one detect any life there, any cooperation, any willingness to make this contemporary church an experience of Christ present. Even more specifically, what is the quality of the preaching, the singing, the proclamation of the scriptures? Are lay folks involved in tending to the needy? Do they have a part in the administration of the parish? Is there evidence that issues of justice and peace are important? In short, can a newcomer detect a certain authentic human spirit among those folks? Would Jesus be satisfied with what he might see and hear if he walked in some Sunday?
It is true, of course, that there is no perfect human church, but it would seem at least that everyone, lay, religious or cleric, adults or youngsters would demonstrate the joyful spirit of Jesus. In that instance Pentecost would be happening year round.
(By the way, the Notre Dame women lost to Connecticut once again but they are still a happy bunch. A good suggestion for the rest of us Sunday Christians)
The scriptures: Acts 8:5-8, 14-17 • 1 Peter:3, 15-18 • John 14:15-21
USCCB Bible Daily Readings: Sixth Sunday of Easter