How do we get from distrust, disillusionment, and disappointment to trust, goodness, and unity? Every day we are bombarded with messages of distrust, disillusionment, and disappointment. That is the work of evil, the devil himself. We are still facing the crisis caused by members of the clergy who abused children. That evil makes the shadow of distrust, disillusionment, and disappointment darker when we think or speak about the Church.
But we must not allow those negatives to divide us from God, one another, or ourselves. The Church is the Body of Christ in the world, made up of individuals like you and me. The good we do every day far outshines the shadow cast by a limited number of people who have sinned and hurt some of the most vulnerable among us.
Every day at St. Patrick’s School we welcome 470 children to help them grow intellectually, socially, morally, and spiritually. Good things happen in our school every day, and that is a clear sign of the power we as human beings are exercising as living parts of the Church. We are getting ready to welcome more than 1,400 students to our Religious Education Program with the same spirit of love, concern, and joy. Then there is our Youth Community that welcomes thousands of young people for sports, helping them to see how good it is to work together as a team. This is the Church we are blessed and proud to be part of as the parish family of St. Patrick in Smithtown.
One woman leaving Mass this weekend said that someone asked her why she was going THERE? Her answer was simple and to the point: “My Faith.” In spite of human weakness and sinfulness in some of our members, Jesus is present and ready to feed, forgive, and walk with us. As I pray privately and at Mass, I am very aware of the shadow that seeks to divide us from God. In the second Eucharistic Prayer for various needs, these words of prayer jump out at me given the present atmosphere: “And so, having called us to your table, Lord, confirm us in unity, so that together with Francis our Pope, and John our Bishop, with all bishops, priests, and deacons, and your entire people, as we walk your ways with faith and hope, we may strive to bring joy and trust into the world.” First and foremost our trust is in Jesus Christ. The words in the quote are prayed after the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ through the words of consecration. Jesus is the center and core of our faith. Faith in Him opens our minds and hearts to all the blessings we have and are because of His presence in our lives. He is always there for us with His redemptive, life-giving love, compassion, forgiveness, and humility. The more we believe in Him and live with Him in our lives, the more we bring “joy and trust into the world.” What a wonderful privilege and blessing it is to receive Jesus in the Sacrament of Holy Communion. United with Him individually and together, we become His living presence in the world. Every day through the great and small things we do, the Church is the most powerful force for good in our world. Good people that we are, we are the Church. Our challenges are many, but our nourishment and wisdom come from the divine, God Himself.
Last week, on the day Newsday reported that the Attorney General of our state is going to subpoena records to determine the extent of the cover up of abuse of children by clergy in the past, the very next page had the word ABORTION in the headlines. Those questioning Judge Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court appointee wanted to make sure he is no threat to the legalization of abortion that Roe vs. Wade made a reality. On the previous page the abuse of children was seen for what it is, a horror that has no place in our world, but on the next page the killing of children through abortion was upheld as a right and freedom that cannot be abolished. Do you see the irony, the power of evil: while it is evil, immoral, and illegal to abuse children, it is quite all right to kill them in the womb? Abuse of children by the clergy has been and continues to be addressed and as many safeguards as we can find should be put into place. But the power of evil, the devil himself, has a strong grasp on the minds of hearts of powerful politicians as well as many of our fellow citizens who defend abortion. Jesus is very clear about how children are to be received and treated:
At that time the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” (Matthew 18:1-6)
First off He calls us to have simple child-like trust in God. Good, peaceful, gentle Jesus then uses very pointed and clear language when He speaks about harming children: “it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” The old ruse of distracting us with one evil to blind us to another is very powerful in our nation. We cannot have two standards (disgust and disapproval of abuse of children and defense of killing them in the womb) and ever find peace with one another. We abhor the pagan practice of child sacrifice to pagan gods while we strenuously and loudly defend abortion through the media and misguided politicians and citizens who are doing the work of the devil.
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen. This prayer is our focus as the Church and as we live it out each day we are the Body of Christ in the world.
Fr. WaldBACK TO LIST