READINGS: Ezekiel 43:1-7; Psalm 85:9-14; Matthew 23:1-12
- Sorrow for the life long damage done to innocent lives and vocations due to the actions of shepherds of the Church.
- Shame for the actions and in some cases, inaction, of so-called shepherds in the Church.
- Anger for the way things are swept aside in silence and secrecy despite the immense harm against innocent victims.
These unscrupulous leaders of the People of God:
- squandered the trust given to them
- harmed those who struggle faithfully to to live out their call
- harmed the Body of Christ, especially those victims whose lives are ruined by these evil actions.
Because of this, the faithful are justified in their anger and distrust the clergy. In the midst of these scandals there are at least three things we can do:
- First: Live for holiness. Jesus tells us in the Gospel not to call anyone Teacher, Father or Master, because we have one Teacher, Father and Master. The scandals in the Church make us examine ourselves to ask where our faith is centred. Our struggle toward holiness cannot be based on our impression of our leaders, no matter how holy they seem to be. Everyone, including myself, is a sinner and will fail us. Our holiness should be based on our Teacher and Master Jesus Christ as we worship one Father in heaven. Jesus said be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect. Our pattern for holiness is Jesus Christ who is the image of the invisible God. The Church needs saints today and the only way to conquer evil is by living lives that conform to the will of God.
- Second: To live in holiness, we need to confess our sins. While the immoral acts are scandals in themselves, the greater scandal is the secrecy involved in keeping these actions away from the public. St Ignatius of Loyola says one of the tactics of the Devil is to act like a secret lover who wants to keep the sin hidden so the sin can continue. Ephesians 5:13 “Everything exposed by the light becomes visible-and everything that is illuminated becomes a light”. Sin is sin and has to be exposed. Once sin is exposed, it loses its power and transformation begins. This is the power of the Sacrament of Confession. It exposes our sins to the Light of Christ so he can take them and transform then into something glorious. If I think I can fight sin on my own, I deceive myself. We conquer sin by the power of the Holy Spirit as we expose it to his fire. If we are hurting, we need to expose this hurt also so healing can happen. If we had been victims of these evil acts, we seek counseling, not to seek forgiveness, but healing. By talking to someone, we expose the pain and wounds of the past so the Lord can heal them. This will not happen immediately but may take a lifelong process. If we persevere, God is faithful to be with us all the way.
- Third: Pray with hope. This is affirmed in the first reading. Ezekiel saw the glory of God as the Temple was being destroyed. He sees the same glory as God reveals his plan to restore the Temple. For John the Evangelist, the glory of Christ is revealed in his death on the cross. This dark moment in our Church’s history is also the time when God’s glory shines through. Despite the fact that the devil wants to keep these actions in the dark and has managed to do so for at least 70 years, God’s light pierces through the darkness and exposes it. God’s light exposes the sins so justice can be done and God’s mercy and healing can be poured out and the Church can be renewed as he promised in the first reading: “This is where my throne shall be, this is where I will set the soles of my feet. Here I will dwell among the children of Israel forever”. This realizes what the Responsorial psalm says: “The glory of the Lord will dwell in our land.” We pray with trust that God will fulfill what he has promised. God is faithful. He will complete his promise.
As we enter the Liturgy of the Eucharist, we cry to our Teacher, Father and Master.
- We ask him to come and heal the victims of these abuses.
- We ask him to come to those who abused their authority, that divine justice may lead them to his Divine mercy.
- We ask him to come to our hearts, in the midst of our fears, our anger and confusion, so we can see the glory in all these sufferings in the Body of Christ. In all these, we repeat the last prayer in Scripture: “Come, Lord Jesus”.