They Appointed Elders

(Homily for Fifth Sunday of Easter - Year C)

Bottom line: From the apostles we have the threefold structure of bishop, priest and deacon. An essential component of love is our relationship to our bishop - and to the priests and deacons who work with him.

Today Jesus gives a new commandment: that we love each other as he loves us. Love has many dimensions. I could never sum up the meaning of love in a single homily or even a lifetime of homilies. This Sunday I would like to focus on one aspect of love - it is not the whole story, but it is an essential part. Love involves being a correct relationship with the other person. Take for example the relationship between parent and child. A parent's love for the child involves protection and guidance, while a child's love for their parent involves honor and obedience. So it is in all our relationships - whether it is teacher and student, older sister and younger brother, grandparent and grandchild, husband and wife. Love involves discovering those elements of correct relationship - and living them out.

We can see the concern for right relationships in today's reading from the Acts of the Apostles. The Apostles not only wanted to give people correct teaching; they also were concerned about right relationships within the community. As they went from one area to another - I quote - "they appointed elders for them in each church." In Greek the word for elder is "presbyteros" - and it does not necessarily mean "old man." The presbyter could be some quite young like Timothy who Paul placed in charge of the important church of Ephesus. It is from the word presbyter that we get our modern word "priest." By the end of the first century Christians had already developed a structure with three levels or orders: bishop, priest and deacon. The early Christians wanted to be in correct relationship with their bishop, their priests and their deacons.

So it is for us. Now, some of you are thinking that I am telling you this because today is Commitment Sunday for the Annual Catholic Appeal. You are right. I am. But I might be preaching to myself more than to you. I admit that sometimes I am tempted to think we have so many needs in our parish, why do I have to take up a collection for the archbishop? The truth is that no priest and no deacon can function apart from his bishop. Being in a correct relationship is an essential part of life -and of love. And from that relationship we receive great benefits for ourselves and for those less fortunate.

Today I am going to ask you to express that love by filling out the Annual Catholic Appeal pledge. Last year the average pledge in the Archdiocese was $258. Some here can pledge more, other less. We are not asking for an equal gift, but for an equal sacrifice. For some of you, your pledge will be prayers. Simply write that on your card. Last year 353 families from our parish made pledges - about one third of our registered families. This year I would like to increase that to 460 families - that is, 40% of our parish.

If we exceed our parish goal of $58,048, we will receive a rebate from the Archdiocese. This year we have a beautiful project in mind for the rebate. You may have noticed that the statues of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. Michael the Archangel have been repaired. (You may remember that the statue of St. Michael was vandalized the summer before last – and that we had to send it Italy to be repaired.) We now need a secure room for those statues - a room where people can go for quiet prayer and to light a votive candle. We need a total of about $7,000 to prepare the room off the vestibule for that purpose. The goal of this project is that these beautiful statues be accessible for devotion, but at the same time have adequate protection. If you desire more details about this project, you may contact parish administrator Gary Samaniego or myself.

Remember: we belong to the Church that goes back to the Apostles. Today we hear how the apostles were careful to set up elders - presbyters - in each local church. From the apostles we have the threefold structure of bishop, priest and deacon. An essential component of love is our relationship to our bishop - and to the priests and deacons who work with him.


Spanish Version

From Archives (Fifth Sunday of Easter, Cycle C):

2016: Third Priority
2013: The Greatest Good
2010: Some Say Love
2007: They Appointed Elders
2004: Necessary to Undergo Many Hardships
2001: Love One Another
1998: Honoring Mothers and Defending Children

Other Homilies

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)

Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish.

Fr. Brad's Homilies

Fr. Jim's Homilies

Fr. Michael White's Homilies ("messages")

Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)

Parish Picture Album


Parish Picture Album

(April 2013)

My bulletin column

St. Mary of the Valley Album

(April 2010)

MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru

From Matthew at Creative Minority Report: "the attacks continue on the Church by the media which reports decades old abuse claims as new news..."

Also, Mark Shea on Transparency and Facing the Truth

And this from Bill Donohoe

Arizona Catholic bishops on immigration bill: The bishops stated that "Anything that may deter crimes from being reported or prosecuted will only keep dangerous criminals on the streets, making our communities less safe, "especially since “the present language of these bills does not clearly state that undocumented persons who become victims of crime can come forward without fear of deportation."

Bulletin (Fasting for Immigration Reform, Confused Vandals Strike Parish, Room for St. Michael & Sacred Heart)

Ob-gyn Dr. Mary Martin: a Catholic priest in the Confessional made it her penance to research whether contraceptive agents could cause abortions.