Homily – March 28

We just listened to the passion story as told by Luke. We’ve heard how Jesus shared His last meal with his friends giving them the gift we receive at this Mass, His body, His blood as the nourishment that strengthens us to face the struggles of life. We’ve heard of his agonizing prayer in the garden and his plea ‘if it is possible let this chalice pass me by – not my will but yours be done. We followed Jesus through those painful events of his betrayal and denial by his closest friends, his phony trial, and his humiliation as he dragged his cross thru the streets to outside the walls of the city to his place of execution. We are shocked by his cruel death and at the same time we still can’t believe that it was all for us. Jesus thought enough of you and me that he died for us.
Christ’s physical sufferings ended when he breathed his last and gave up his spirit. But Christ suffers today in the sufferings of humanity; Christ suffers today in the diminishment and devastation of planet earth. We may find it hard to get our heads around such ideas but it is true.
Christ suffers too in our suffering Church. Not just in the persecutions that many of our fellow Catholics endure for being loyal to their faith. Christ suffers in the sufferings we’ve brought upon our selves. For the past weeks the media has kept before us the crimes of priests against innocent children. We hear of ruined lives, unhealed wounds. We hear of the neglect of bishops to face these sins and crimes. We hear of cover-ups and moving problem priests on to other parishes where they continued their evil acts. As the report on the sex crimes in Ireland point out – the bishops were more concerned about the image and reputation of the institutional church than they were about the young victims of these crimes. Such crimes are surfacing in different countries of Europe and even the Pope may be tainted by this scandal. Christ is suffering in our exposed and embarrassed Catholic community.
As members of St. Gabriel’s parish, as members of the universal Church we can enter this Holy Week being realistic about our church; for we are a community of sinners and saints. During this holy week we pray for the young people abused by priests, we pray for their families, we pray for the perpetrators of these crimes and we pray for a healing of the wounds that are wounding us all.
These are not the best of times for us Catholics. As Christ endured his passion to be exalted by His resurrection – may we, the Church, come through this time of shame to a holier, more faithful time, a time of resurrection.