BRIDGEPORT— At a time of division in society and within the Church, “true unity is not making peace with ourselves, but making peace with Him,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano in his online Mass from the Catholic Center chapel on the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Reflecting on the Gospel of Mark (1:14-20 ) when Jesus invites the apostles Simon, Andrew, James and John to follow him, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men,” the bishop said that Jesus extends the same call to us “in the singular moment we are living as Americans and believers in Him.”
“The Lord invites us to allow the power of the Holy Spirit to help us get beyond what divides us,” he said, emphasizing that our shared faith in Jesus “gives us a greater purpose so our differences don’t matter anymore.”
The bishop said that the faithful can overcome its divisions and work toward unity and a common mission not simply by thinking that we can solve all of our own problems, but “by fixing our eyes on Him who is the truth, the way and the life.”
He began his homily by recalling that a few years ago when he led the diocesan pilgrimage to Washington D.C. for the dedication of a prayer garden alongside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, he found time to visit the Vietnam War Memorial.
Noting that the wall of black granite adorned with names of those who died serving the country was “beautiful to behold in itself,” the bishop said it was important to look behind the names to the lives that were lost.
“Each time I gaze on the names, I remind myself that behind every name is a person’s face, life, and history that needs to be remembered and honored. The name is a pathway to glimpse the beauty of each individual who is memorialized there.”
Likewise, as Jesus begins his ministry, we are introduced to the apostles by name, but we are also invited to be drawn into the story of their faith.
Describing the apostles as an unlikely group that was beset by differences, bickering, and lack of understanding of what Jesus was saying, the bishop said we may wonder why Jesus selected them.
“He loved them for who they were and who they could become,” said the bishop, adding that we should be encouraged by “the inexplicable fact that the bickering, envy, jealousy, and disunity ended in the Upper Room when the ragtime group of men accepted the Holy Spirit in their heart.”
He said that by “fixing their eyes on Jesus after first recognizing their own sinfulness, they allowed the Spirit to touch them with power and grace… They found true unity and began to imagine what men that they could become.”
Noting that there is presently much division in the Church between liberal and conservative voices, the bishop said that we are in need of reconciliation much like the apostles.
“Enough is enough, the Pentecost has come,” he said, adding that we often end up fighting over things that divide us superficially rather than deepen our lives in Christ’s as His modern day disciples.
He said the Lord loves us for who we are, but like the apostles, we can’t move forward without the admission of our own sinfulness and acceptance of His forgiveness in our lives.
“This is our singular moment, the time the Lord in the upper room is whispering to us, ‘I will lead you to what you desire. Will you come after me, follow me, become fishers of women and men?’”
The bishop said that when we have gone from this life, many may remember our names, but the lives we live behind the names are what matters, particularly if we unite in His love.
“Let us use this moment to go beyond the names of the Apostles to discover them for the true men and saints they became, and let us have the courage to follow their example, so we might heal divisions in our own Church, the division in our world and the divisions in our hearts—yours and mine.”
Before final blessing the bishop said he prayed for all families of the diocese that they remain safe and healthy, and he also asked for prayers for him and diocesan leaders during this difficult time. “Without the grace of the Holy Spirit we can’t find our way forward. With him there is no challenge we cannot meet.”
The Bishop’s Sunday Mass is released online every Sunday morning at 8 a.m. and available for replay throughout the day. To view the Bishop’s Sunday Mass, recorded and published weekly, click this link or visit the YouTube Mass Playlist.
You are also invited to join Bishop Caggiano for the Sunday Family Rosary every Sunday at 7:30 p.m. visit: https://formationreimagined.org/sundayfamilyrosary/