Jesus said to his disciples,
“Things that cause sin will inevitably occur,
but woe to the one through whom they occur.
It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck
and he be thrown into the sea
than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.
Be on your guard!
If your brother sins, rebuke him;
and if he repents, forgive him.
And if he wrongs you seven times in one day
and returns to you seven times saying, ‘I am sorry,’
you should forgive him.”
And the Apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”
The Lord replied, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed,
you would say to this mulberry tree,
‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” – Luke 17: 1-6
So that’s the Gospel passage for today – the Monday of the 32nd Week of Ordinary Time. I looked at it this afternoon after reading so much confusing and quite honestly, infuriating news from Baltimore where the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops are meeting right now. They gathered specifically to vote on a code of conduct for Bishops regarding investigating their misconduct… a meeting that was months in the making only to have their plans at least tabled by the Vatican quite shockingly this morning.
To state the obvious: The Church does not have the benefit of the doubt anymore. Our past, gross failures have annihilated that. All day, I’ve checked my inclination to go off on a rant. While it might be somewhat cathartic I don’t believe will be helpful. Suffice it to say, I can appreciate the anger that many are experiencing right now… Although I cannot imagine the range of emotions on the part of victims, most especially the victims of disgraced former-Cardinal McCarrick at this news.
But before I go off and join in an avalanche of comments, and then use Jesus’ words to justify those rants and raves (which wouldn’t be bringing anything new to these conversations) – I’m going to focus on the one thing I have control over: myself. And let Jesus’ words speak to me. Quite simply Jesus is saying –
I need to be sure not to cause someone, anyone (especially a little one) to sin.
I need to rebuke sin.
I need to forgive the repentant one who asks for forgiveness.
I need to forgive the repentant one over and over again….
Everyone of us needs to do that… priest – layperson – Pope – Bishop.
Everyone of us needs to listen to Jesus’ words as being spoken to us individually because they are. Because after we’ve seen and heard how much destruction that evil has done to so many – that should re-iterate how urgent for us not to allow ourselves to fall into evil temptations ourselves.
And even more, as the doubts, as the assaults on our faith makes us want to cry out with the apostles to Jesus for an “increase” of it – Jesus reminds me – I already have enough faith. It’s not a matter of needing more of like a Gas tank that I need a fill up of. Faith is a gift that must be utilized in order to grow. I need to trust that precious, God given gift of Faith – more than in the angering, disturbing news all around that wants to undermine it. That remains rooted and focused on Jesus Christ alone. At the end of a long day of weary-inducing headlines, tweets and reports that’s all I’ve got… and Jesus says, that’s enough.
Lay governance would be a really bad idea, judging from what I’ve seen from the little old lady cabals that wield unofficial power in so many parishes. I’ve seen pastors try to wrest power away from them to varying degrees of success and it’s never pretty. I shudder to think of what would happen if they held any real power. It’s an invitation to schism.
If the bishops wanted to form an investigative body of retired cops and FBI, that would be terrific and they SHOULD but final authority on anything arising from that has to come from the bishops.
Beautiful, heartfelt response to the disturbing events of the day. Thank you. Please know that my faith is kept strong through your obviously strong faith in a loving and merciful God and despite the relatively few, though blatant yahoos.
Thank you. And I will meditate on your words and pray that someday the Church will decide enough is enough. God Bless you Father Jim.
This is beautifully written and the “reset” I needed. As Steve said, your faith and willingness to share your faith has helped mine. I pray that we all may be able to do the same for others.
Thank you, Fr. Jim. I read the same reading and didn’t have the insight that you did! Your words helped me cope with this.
Thank you for your heartfelt words of wisdom. I will not lose my faith as I know challenges are a part of life. Those who have sinned are known to God and will be judged by him.