I’ve spent a bulk of today reading the long awaited report from the Vatican on the former Archbishop of Newark, Theodore McCarrick. At about 6 hours in, I was a little more than halfway through completing the 461 pages. Definitely have a lot of emotions, reactions and responses that I’m still processing. God’s providence provided in the form of a “break” to pray the divine mercy chaplet online with our students at 3 PM and then look at the scriptures for today’s Mass.
One initial sadness is recognizing how far so many, so so many have strayed. Not just the monstrous, predatory acts of one sick individual. That belongs in a category of it’s own. But how far too many in the Church ignore, forgot, or were numb to remembering their singular responsibility which we heard St. Paul talking about in today’s first reading: The grace of God has appeared… training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires… to cleanse for Himself a people as His own, eager to do what is good. It would be easy to go off on a rant on how so many have failed. Easy, depressing and discouraging. Which I know is not from God.
What is from God is to hear those words spoken in the present tense – The grace of God has appeared – Jesus is in our midst… The importance of that encounter in our lives, the reordering of our lives as our response to that is the only thing we have ultimate control over and is tough, difficult work that requires, demands our effort and attention. Yes evil has to be named, addressed and dealt with – but in our seeing and having to confront any evil, we have to protect ourselves – not to let these “godless” “worldly” things to undermine who Jesus is, what He has done for us and what He calls us to do. Otherwise, we allow the devil to continue to unleash his evil destructive ways within ourselves.
While today’s news focuses on the evil unleashed by one man, the Church remembers the good of another man, a Pope from the 5th Century St Leo the Great. It would have been easy for him to get lost in the great battles of his day and age, which threatened to overwhelm him and the Church whether they were political issues, theological debates, heresies and attacks that characterized very tumultuous times. He’s called “the great” because of his ability to keep centered on Christ, for being a faithful pastor, who’s work and influence are remembered these centuries later while those leveling attacks against him and the Church are forgotten to history. May he pray for us, that we will take to heart his words reflecting on what we received in our Baptisms:
Christian, remember your dignity, and now that you share in God’s own nature, do not return by sin to your former base condition. Bear in mind who is your head and of whose body you are a member. Do not forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of God’s kingdom.