Listening to these readings,
you’d think Moses, the Apostle James, and the Lord Jesus
were all talking about the troubles we’re facing these days as Catholics!
Moses said: God gave you beautiful laws and truths,
that all the world will envy, because of their wisdom.
And that is true. The Ten Commandments,
the words of the prophets
and the light of Christ’s teaching
all shine in our Catholic Faith.
Unfortunately, some people, including some in positions of authority,
have obscured this beauty by their crimes and neglect.
Maybe if some of our bishops and the cardinals and officials in Rome
had been more concerned about being clean on the inside,
being truly holy, we’d be better off.
But like the Pharisees in the Gospel,
they were only worried about appearances.
OK, so now that things are being cracked open a little,
people are making accusations, and it’s all pretty upsetting.
None of us wants to see this in the headlines.
None of us wants to think badly of the Holy Father.
But it’s out there, so let’s talk about it.
Let me share some things that may give you some encouragement.
For one, the report that came out about two weeks ago,
from Pennsylvania, which was filled with accounts of horrible crimes,
was about things that happened more than 20 years ago.
That is not to excuse any of it;
but you should know that there is accountability for priests today
that wasn’t true then.
Second, you need to know that men who are admitted to the seminary
these days undergo pretty intense scrutiny.
This has been true for at least 20 years.
And third, you deserve to know that priests, deacons, seminarians,
parish employees and parish volunteers all live under
very specific requirements of accountability.
Still, with all these accusations flying back and forth – going all the way to Rome –
and wondering what other shoes may drop –
itt’s alarming and dispiriting. So what do you and I do?
This week I touched base with a number of seminarians,
including the three from this parish.
I wanted to know how they were bearing up.
They said they are doing fine.
Almost to a man, they saw this as a sign to redouble their commitment.
To persevere, because the Church needs holy priests.
I told them we’re praying for them. They know it. They are grateful.
But they are not discouraged.
They know there is a big job; perhaps even bigger than they realized.
The Church has wounds – someone has to tend them.
People need to know who Jesus is. That hasn’t changed.
Who will tell them? Rather, who will show them?
That’s not just my job, you know. It’s not just the seminarians’ job.
Every single one of us is a member of the Body of Christ.
What St. James said in the second reading, he says to everyone here:
“Welcome the Word” that is in your hearts: that is, Jesus Christ!
And notice how he tells us to show the world the face of Jesus:
“Care for widows and orphans in their affliction”…
And keep yourself “unstained by the world.”
I know a lot of Catholics are asking: what should I do?
The Apostle James just told you what to do.
It’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.
How? I’ve already mentioned, the other week,
the need to write Archbishop Schnurr.
Let him know what’s in your heart.
And, like our seminarians, see this as a time to grow in holiness.
The Church never needed lukewarm believers, but oh boy,
we sure don’t need that now. We need more saints.
How? Do what St. James said, that’s how.
However unsettling news reports may be, don’t let it get to you.
The rottenness has to be rooted out. It’s not pleasant.
I believe Jesus will purify his Church.
My job and yours is to let him work through us.