Mass of the Neophytes emphasizes reality of Jesus’ presence


CHARLESTON — Saying they had “received the faith of Jesus in the Catholic Church,” Bishop David B. Thompson celebrated a Mass of the Neophytes at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist last Sunday afternoon for those who took part in the recent Easter Vigil ceremonies across the diocese.

In his homily remarks, Bishop Thompson said that the day’s Gospel was “perfect” and “helped set the focus straight.” He said the readings immediately after Easter portray the apostles as “wimps,” who were hiding out in fear and eventually went back to fishing.

“It shows the importance of the third person in the Trinity, the Holy Spirit,” said the bishop. “Until the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles, the Church didn’t have strength. On Pentecost Sunday, once the Holy Spirit came, everybody began to act and fulfill their role.”

Bishop Thompson referred to the Gospel reading at the Mass, John 20:19-31, concerning Doubting Thomas, as being all about faith. “Thomas doubted once and for all for us. The Lord passed the test from Thomas. If we believe Christ has risen, we don’t have to worry about anything else.”

The reading is also the only place in the Gospel where “nailmarks” concerning Jesus are mentioned, the bishop said, stressing the importance of this fact. “It helps us to ‘nail’ down our faith.”

The reality of Jesus’ presence was also emphasized by Bishop Thompson, who said the Lord asked the apostles for something to eat, and also to touch him. “He will come back to you when you have your doubts too,” the bishop stated, relaying how the neophytes have been told by their sponsors that there will be temptations in the faith.

Tips on “how you can help yourself” were then given by Bishop Thompson. He related how Thomas was absent from the community during Jesus appearance, which led to his doubt. “Community is very important to you. It helps you to hold on to your faith,” said the bishop of Charleston. As an example, he told attendees a quote given by a Redemptorist priest during a seminarian retreat: “Remember the banana; once it gets loose from the stalk, it is sure to get skinned,” he said to laughter.

Bishop Thompson continued, “It is important for all of you to embrace Christ and the mystical body of the Church,” describing the Church and its teaching authority as a ship with the Holy Spirit at the helm.

“Let the last words of the Gospel reading be our words: ‘Blessed are those who do not see but believe,'” concluded the bishop, again congratulating the neophytes. “Also, let ‘My Lord and My God’ be the words on our lips every time we think of Jesus.”

Following the Mass, a reception was held in the Cathedral Center for the neophytes, their families and RCIA core team members.