More than one person, it would seem, has asked for Bishop Jos Punt’s homily, given during the consecration Mass of Bishop Jan Hendriks, to be published on the website. And so it has, as the most recent edition of the semi-regular Word of the Bishop feature. My translation is available here.
As may be expected from one of the best homilists among the Dutch bishops, it is a personal, thoughtful and passionate text. The bishop, writing as a personal friend of the newly-consecrated, paints a picture of the environment in which a new bishop finds himself, calling it “fascinating, but also dramatic”. But, speaking about the difficulties the Church may find herself in from time to time, the bishop says that we “know all too well that the Church is always holy and sinful at the same time. The Lord, after all, does not work with spirits or superhumans, but with average weak people to bring others to God. That is how it has always been.”
As one of the most striking elements of this homily, which later continues about the importance of faith and the unique Triune nature of God, the third paragraph stands out. In it, Bishop Punt speaks about the abuse crisis, and mentions that several victims – “with whom we have had much contact” – were present at the Mass.
The personal nature of the homily, which I mentioned above as coming from the personal friendship which has developed between the two bishops since their time at seminary, is also noticeable. The following anecdote is an example of that: “From our time in seminary, I remember that, shortly after my arrival, it was my turn to be acolyte. I had never been one and for years I had been estranged from the Church. I did not know what to do at all. You, and others too, tried to point me in the right direction with violent gestures and loud calls. Without much success, by the way. In the end I brought everything to the altar in one go, with the thought that it would at least all be there. By now I have made up arrears, and we not only share the knowledge of content and form, but also a deep respect for this great sacrament of God’s presence among people.”
It’s a worthwhile read about the faith, the nature of God, the duties of bishops, the current problems we face as Christians and the unimaginable gifts that we have received.
Photo credit: Tiltenberg