On Mother’s Day, I had the privilege to deliver the homily at the Cathedral. The first reading from that Sunday was from the Acts of the Apostles regarding Philip spreading the Word, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in Samaria. Through his evangelization “there was great joy in the city.” That verse continues to resonate with me, enough so that I thought it was worth revisiting.
In trying to equate what the great joy in Samaria might have been like, I mentioned the energy in Detroit when the Tigers won the World Series, and the Red Wings won back-to-back Stanley Cups. I neglected to relate that great joy with the spirit that filled Detroit when Pope John Paul II visited in 1987. The point being, when I think of great joy in our city, I think about a Detroit buzzing like it did during those times.
But what is “joy”? In a typical dictionary you might find a definition stating it is an emotion associated with success or good fortune. Celebrating championship sports teams certainly is covered by that definition. From a faith perspective it is, “A quality or attitude of delight and happiness, which is ultimately grounded in the work of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit,” (Dictionary of Bible Themes, Martin H. Hanser, 2009). The city vibe during the Pope’s visit definitely fits within this definition.
But can there be great joy in Detroit without special occasions such as those mentioned above? The answer lies in what we celebrate this weekend, Pentecost, and the answer is an emphatic YES! This weekend we celebrate the Holy Spirit coming upon twelve Apostles (Matthias having filled the void left by Judas) and many others who were praying with them. These folks were once cowering in a locked room, and are now equipped to boldly spread the Word far and wide.
For several years now we have been called to be joyful missionary disciples, to spread the Gospel to our families, friends, our Detroit neighbors. On our own, this is not possible. We might as well lock ourselves in a room. But with the Holy Spirit, we too can share the good news, the love the Father has for all of us, the good news of our salvation through Jesus Christ. The fruits of sharing of the Word – a Detroit filled with great joy, just as it was for the ancient people of Samaria.
Speaking of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, the ordination of five new priests should bring us great joy! A year after we saw no priestly ordinations, we celebrate Fathers Richard Dorsch, Jr., Ryan Walters, Jeremy Schupbach, Michael “Bruno” Selvaraj, and Andrew Smith joining the ranks of the presbyterate in the Archdiocese of Detroit. At the Cathedral we have had many opportunities to witness these men serve throughout their formation and diaconate. I have had the privilege to serve with them on many occasions. The future of the Church in Detroit is a bit brighter.
While our archdiocese is blessed to have five new priests, we can’t rest on our laurels. Continue to pray for vocations to the priesthood (and diaconate, and religious life) that, through the works of the Holy Spirit, others men may join their ranks. Together, we can live and spread the Gospel in and around Detroit. Together, we can experience great joy in the city.
In the peace and joy of Christ,