Homily from fourth week of Easter

Homily -- Fourth week of Easter
Given by Fr. Tom Carkhuff, osc
Last week I was fortunate to attend a conference at St. Meinrad’s Abbey in southern Indiana. The monks of St. Meinrad’s and the staff at St. Luke’s Institute in Silver Spring, Maryland,  jointly sponsored this second biennial conference on intercultural competencies, quite a different topic than their first on sexuality and celibacy. 
After a full day of working at our conference, one of our organizers reported to us that one of his fellow monks had inquired how this conference was going. His response was, “Things are muddy in trying to blend ministerial, interpersonal and spiritual issues for people from so many countries and cultures. It is so complicated.” Many of us agreed. This intercultural work in the Church, our institutes, and our society is complex.
There were about 175 people present for the conference: women and men, lay people, religious and diocesan priests. There was a laywoman from Australia, a religious sister from South Korea, a priest from Poland, people from other countries, along with the diverse parts of our country. Some work in initial formation and seminary training, some work with already professed religious coming from other nations, some work with ordained men coming to serve in parishes in the U.S., and others work with parish communities receiving these new ministers. Of course, I thought about some of our own recent Crosier efforts, most especially welcoming our fine confreres from Mexico, our collaborative efforts at fraternal sharing with four excellent priests from Indonesia and Congo, and also next summer’s international formation experience.
About the same time that monk stated that “this all seems rather muddy,” I was asking myself the questions, “Why are we doing all of this, applying so many resources to all these efforts? What is our reasoning for committing so much to being intercultural? What do we expect to accomplish?” 
These Easter days our scripture readings from the 11th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles give good grounding. The messages are about the spirit of the Risen Lord being so powerful that it cannot be contained in one place or with one people. Even though the death of Stephen brought on larger persecutions, new believers went to other regions and the numbers grew; Antioch became a thriving location after Jerusalem; upbeat Barnabas went from Jerusalem to Antioch to investigate these unexpected developments and was so moved that he went and brought Paul from Tarsus to help teach the growing number of eager and enthusiastic believers, those who were first called, those Christ people.
In yesterday’s reading, also from the 11th chapter of Acts, as Simon Peter spoke about his commitment to spread the good news of the Risen Lord, he admitted, “Who am I to hinder the work of God?” Yes, though all this spreading of the Good News can be complicated and challenging, though we all have work to develop our own intercultural competencies, who are we to hinder the work of God? Rather, may we be like Barnabas, may we encourage one another in our competency and skills, in our hope and faith in the Spirit of the Risen Lord.